On similar lines, several eyebrows were raised when Neha Dhupia gave birth to her baby girl soon after her hush hush wedding to Angad Bedi. Dia Mirza too became a topic of discussion on the internet when she announced her pregnancy soon after her marriage with Vaibhav Rekhi. Well these B-Town mommies couldn’t care less for these opinions. In fact, several actresses have lived their pregnancy on their own terms and set examples in modern day parenting. Age-old customs and traditions no longer apply to maternity and parenting.
In today’s #BigStory, we speak to celebrity parents to decode the new rules of modern day parenting, how they manoeuvred through their pregnancy, what they think about the changing rules of maternity and parenting and much more. Read on.
Premarital pregnancy not a taboo anymore
The 21st century woman is a progressive thinker, independent and strong enough to take informed decisions pertaining to her life, be it career, dating, marriage, sex, pregnancy or anything else. The aforementioned actresses and many others did not for one moment get bothered by the society’s judgment on their personal choices and continue to live life on their own terms. Veteran actress Neena Gupta is on a career high with back to back films. The Uunchai actress once dated cricketer Vivian Richards and conceived her daughter Masaba out of wedlock. Though pre-martial sex and pre-marital pregnancy is not a taboo anymore, Neena tells ETimes she had a tough time back then. “It was a very difficult and traumatic time for me. But because it was my decision, I decided to take all the shit and move on,” she says.
Social anthropologist Dr Shiv Visvanathan says celebs are ‘more stars in public life than they are in their films’. “In a public sense, they are creating a sociological change, candid about sexuality and maternity. Maternity is not exile but a transition to a different stage of competence and responsibility. They celebrate the body and they are not afraid of it. They bring to the private roles a confidence that current cinema lacks,” he says.
Father to three kids, Karanvir Bohra believes it is nobody else’s business how and when celebs choose to have kids. “I think premarital pregnancy or having a baby without even getting married is okay. People need to learn to accept it. You cannot live in a primitive era where you question what, how, and why someone did it,” he says.
Stand-up comedienne Bharti Singh embraced motherhood in April this year. “I am a Punjabi, brought up in Amritsar. The
sanskar with which we have been brought up, we have been taught
har cheez ka time hota hai aur niyam hote hain. Marriage happens first, and then couples bear kids, not before marriage. So we follow this. But premarital pregnancy is a personal choice, if one is comfortable with it, who are we to question? We have no right,” she asserts.
An industry insider notes there has been a radical change as the human race entered the digital age. “The change is happening at the grassroot level,” he says. “The world is now connected intimately and the way of life and the way of thinking of one culture is bleeding very fast into another. Premarital sex and conceiving a child outside marriage are personal matters between two consenting adults. But the institution of marriage is still tied to the traditional value system. But even those who rebelled against the so-called traditional value system, in their own way, conform by redefining. They may be practicing Hindus or Muslims or Christians and they may be following that faith very sincerely, but when it comes to interpersonal relationships, they are ready to make slight alterations in this third decade of the 21st century.”
Flaunting the baby bump
From Kareena Kapoor Khan to Neha Dhupia, Anushka Sharma to Bipasha Basu, Teejay Sidhu to Debina Bonnerjee, actresses have broken stereotypes and flaunted their pregnancy in style. Gone are the days when the baby bump was to be covered and women made to stay indoors so as to protect them from any unwarranted attention or untoward incidents. The modern day supermoms are living every moment of their pregnancy with no compromise. From shoots to dinner dates, from brand collabs to casual walks, these B-Town mommies step out in style, flaunt the baby bump, and set maternity fashion goals. Yes, that’s really a thing now.
Actress Debina Bonnerjee who welcomed her second baby girl just yesterday spoke to ETimes and said, “When we can flaunt our body, go all out with work on any regular day, why can we not do so during pregnancy? Why is it considered a taboo? When it came to me, I felt pregnancy is one of the most beautiful phases of life. So either one can regret the increasing size and feel bad about it, or accept it and flaunt it beautifully. There are so many youngsters who get body conscious and feel weird about it. It is up to us to normalise the changes happening to the body and accept it. Flaunt it the way you otherwise do.”
Actress Shilpa Shirodkar is a mom to a teenage daughter now. Back in her time, pregnancy for an actress was not the same as it is now. “It’s absolutely amazing when I see these girls leading their lives the way they want to. There are some who love it, and some who don’t. Times have changed and where is it written that once you become pregnant, you should not work? Or once you become a mother, you should stop dreaming? I give all the would-be moms who flaunt their baby bump and endorse maternity wear and products full marks,” she lauds the new age B-Town mommies.
Karanvir agrees, “Yes, women these days don’t shy away from flaunting the bump because it is the most natural thing. They are bold and outright and they just express their freedom and naturalness with all the gusto. And I like that they are out there, it’s like women are at par with men in society.”
No compromise on career
Gone are the days when embracing motherhood meant an end (or at best, a pause) to an actress’ film career. B-Town’s supermoms continue to work through their pregnancy and even resume work soon after delivery. These are golden times when they are in fact getting strong character driven films and filmmakers too are accommodating. Kareena Kapoor Khan, for instance, shot for Veere Di Wedding during her first pregnancy and for Laal Singh Chaddha during her second pregnancy. Not to mention, there is no slowing down the actress even after having two kids. Alia Bhatt continued to promote Brahmastra with her baby bump. She even shot for her Hollywood debut film Heart of Stone with Gal Gadot during her pregnancy. Desi girl Priyanka Chopra flew all the way from LA to India to launch her hair care brand, leaving 10-month old daughter Malti Marie in the loving company of daddy Nick Jonas.
“Yes, women earlier were told that marriage is the death of her career,” the insider notes. “Alia chose to get married and decided to have a baby at the peak of her career. She is living life on her own terms and generating wealth and also finding great satisfaction in the kind of roles that she now demands from producers, directors or writers. These were considered to be watershed moments in the lives of our leading actresses because it was believed once a woman gets married, then the film career goes on a downslide. But with the world changing and the OTT platform bringing content from all over the world, where way of life and thinking keeps changing globally, even here in India, our people in the interiors are getting exposed to stories. And through stories, their way of thinking about the attitude towards the old value system is undergoing a change. So there is a revolution of a kind, a re-evaluation of values.”
Debina states while one may want life to go a certain way, it may throw a googly. “You have your own thoughts and beliefs. There is a certain section of society where women do work till delivery – they go out, they fill water. I am not even talking about a village. I am talking about my mom who has worked all throughout pregnancy. After my brother was born, she resumed work immediately, the household chores. Do we not consider it work which is why we have not questioned earlier how and why women work throughout their pregnancy? Now that they are going out, doing brand endorsements… there are strong women like Bharti Singh who went out on the 12th day after her delivery and resumed her work. Women have been working continuously. Just that when they work at home, it is often not acknowledged. I feel there is no difference between then and now, celebs and non-celebs. And if your body permits, then why not? That should be the only criteria,” she makes a strong case.
Neena Gupta adds, “I think Masaba must have learned what she had to learn from me. Because kids learn by observing their parents. I think however the parents behave with others, kids learn to behave like that. Of course, DNA and genes also determine that but kids learn a lot by observing their parents.”
Bharti Singh does not like to be dictated what she can or cannot do. “I don’t like to interfere in anyone’s business and nor anybody interfering in mine. Today’s women are strong and courageous. It was my first pregnancy and I was on stage till the last day of my pregnancy. 12 days after my delivery, I was back on stage again. So it’s all about the thinking. People even trolled me when I returned to work so soon, saying that I am leaving the child alone to earn. But my mom and mother in law have taught me well.”
Karanvir believes marriage and pregnancy do not dictate a woman’s career these days. “The audience has matured and accepted that celebs’ personal life is different and reel life is different. Earlier that was not the case when they were not exposed to social media and the life of the actors. Now even the scripts are getting better and they focus on women oriented stories. The entertainment industry has opened its arms to women oriented scripts,” he says.
Veteran actress Pooja Bedi recalls, “In my era, the 90s, it was a taboo to even admit to having a boyfriend. Everyone was “good friend”. The virginal heroine could not be anyone else’s but the viewers. If you got married it was goodbye to films as a heroine. Films always reflect society. Today, having a boyfriend, pre-marital sex, live-in relationships is acceptable and our films reflect that in how the heroine is portrayed on screen as well. Women’s rights, evolving societal mindsets and new aspirational realities herald the change we see today. Most importantly the incredible roles that are being scripted for women actors today go beyond traditional virginal projections. A good actor is a good actor and roles are being given to those who can do those roles justice. Especially as evolving mindsets don’t shake fan bases if marriages or kids come into the picture.”
Shilpa Shirodkar adds, “Women working through their pregnancy, after giving birth is absolutely the best thing today. It’s not so much women empowerment, it’s just that today’s women are standing by what they desire to do. And may I also say they have amazing husbands who support them. So let’s not forget to also appreciate the men in their lives.”
Bharti believes the added responsibilities only make women stronger. “I am enjoying this phase of motherhood a lot. I work a couple of days a week, but I am always alert about my baby. The nannies are good. My mother-in-law and family members also look after my baby well. We should appreciate and support working moms. We have to change the old beliefs and the thinking,” she says.
Star babies and the media glare
There is immense curiosity around star babies and it is but natural for the parents to be bothered about the huge attention their kids draw in public. While actresses like Priyanka Chopra, Sonam Kapoor, Neha Dhupia and Anushka Sharma have been careful not to show their baby’s face to the paparazzi and on social media, there are some others like Bharti Singh, Debina Bonnerjee, Teejay Sidhu who do not mind their kids to be clicked. Taimur has been the paparazzi’s favourite star kid for most of his growing up years and Kareena Kapoor Khan and Saif Ali Khan have never refused the paps a picture when they were around. As Alia Bhatt got discharged from the hospital after her delivery last week, her car was mobbed by photographers to capture a glimpse her baby girl. Daddy Ranbir Kapoor had no choice but to shield the baby’s face to protect her from the camera flashes.
Bharti has always been cordial with the paparazzi whenever they tried to click her son’s pictures. “
Golu ko sab pyaar karte hain, kitna cute hai woh. Nazar kaun lagata hai?” she says.
“They smile when they see him, it makes them happy. They won’t cast an evil eye on him. Our ancestors believed we must not show the baby’s face for 40 days. I did not show Golu’s face for three and a half months. But beyond that how much will we hide? But to each his own, it’s their baby, their life, their will.”
Karanvir recalls when Bella and Vienna first arrived in India when they were just 6-7 months old. “Teejay and I were one of the few who didn’t mind showing our kids’ faces. People hide for one and only one reason, they are afraid
ki nazar lag jayegi. When Bella and Vienna came to India, there was a lot of press taking pictures at the airport. We knew most of these photographers, so it was acceptable. They were so happy to see the kids, a couple of photographer friends just left the cam and wanted to hold the baby. Even Bella and Vienna smiled and we realised that they are spreading so much joy and happiness,” he says adding that thereafter they created a separate page for their daughters, that is managed by mom Teejay.
Shilpa thinks it is each to their own. “Parents are the only ones who know what suits their kids and we should all respect that. Earlier there was no social media and so much attention. We just had magazines, either weekly or monthly. Now you are constantly being talked about and sorry to say sometimes there are very harsh comments made on kids which is unfair. So if a parent feels that they don’t want to expose their kids earlier to everyone, it’s absolutely perfect,” she says.
Co-parenting’s the word
As Shilpa Shirodkar said, our B-Town supermoms have amazing husbands who support them in their personal life as also their career aspirations. These superdads also take turns to look after the kids while mommies are at work. Kareena and Saif recently spoke of how they share the responsibilities. While one is away on shoot, the other is keeping the kids company. Likewise, Priyanka fulfilled her professional commitments in India, while Nick took good care of Malti Marie in LA.
Debina agrees co-parenting is absolutely important. “Babies do not have a perspective of their own since birth, they learn from observing the adults around them. They do not come with preconceived notions of what is right or wrong, or that a mother should alone take care of the baby, or that it is the sole responsibility of the father to step out and earn for the family while the mother has to stay at home. A child does not know any of this, they learn by observing the environment they are brought up in. So whatever you set as the rules of the house, the child will adopt. So when you co-parent, the child will see it as normal. If the mother is out working, the father can very well take care of the child and share the load. It’s one of the best things a couple can do,” she says.
“The true challenge is making the children a part of your life and not your entire life revolving around them, whether it’s a mother or father. I don’t leave my kids at home when I am shooting. I take my kids along, I love having my children around. I don’t want to miss out on a precious moment,” Karanvir signs off.