Actor duo Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor are expecting their first baby. The news was shared by Bhatt on Instagram along with a picture of the expecting parents gleefully undergoing a sonogram. As expected, the news generated a mixed bag of reactions. Some critiqued Bhatt for her pregnancy so early in her marriage, throwing around speculations that she was pregnant when she married Kapoor. Then there were those who targeted actor Deepika Padukone for not having a child despite being married to Ranveer Singh for nearly four years now.
As soon as the news about Bhatt’s pregnancy popped up, numerous memes targeting Padukone and her husband began doing rounds on social media. One user shared a meme, based on a scene from the film Gangs of Wasseypur 2, in which Padukone’s face has been superimposed on that of a character called Nagma, presumably asking Singh, “Kab khaulega re tera.” Another meme was a picture of Sunil Grover from his song “Mere husband mujse pyaar nahi karte,” with the line “inko aata hi nahi hai, inse hota hi nahi hai.” Actor Katrina Kaif, who was in a relationship with Kapoor, too has been targetted by trolls as she remains childless despite marrying Vicky Kaushal last year. (Yes! they got married just last year.)
Shadi kab kar rahe ho? Good news kab de rahe ho? There is no escaping these questions for women in India, even if you are Deepika Padukone.
Does it matter that Padukone has numerous exciting films like Pathaan and Project K coming up? Does it impress people that Padukone and her husband were recently named among Asia’s richest celebrity power couples?
The Perennial Pressure To Have Kids
The problem is that life goals set by our society for women are quite different from those for men. A woman’s life isn’t complete, her achievements are lacklustre until she embraces motherhood. Also, there is this thing called “right time” to have kids as well. So by some convoluted logic, Padukone is late in producing progenies as she is already in her thirties and has been married for more than three years. But then, remember, a section of social media users also shamed Bhatt for getting pregnant so early in her marriage. Read about it here.
Suggested Reading: Five Reasons Why We Should Celebrate Alia Bhatt’s Pregnancy Announcement
As this tweet points out correctly, “Taunting Alia for being pregnant within 3 months . Taunting Deepika & Katrina for not having baby being married. Just a misogynistic society who can’t mind their own business.” No matter what a woman does, society will always find a way to police her choices.
Another noteworthy thing about the toxic tweets mentioned above is how it presents Padukone as a baby demanding vengeful woman. The image projected is that of a bitter ex who is taunting her husband to impregnate her because her former lover is starting a family. Haven’t we seen such portrayal of women on other occasions and over other mediums? The jealous padosan who fights with her husband to buy a new car because their neighbours have done so. The woman who constantly fights with her husband for not earning enough. Basically, a woman who is not happy with her life and blames the man (read- the victim) for her misfortunes. Poor Ranveer, his wife wants a child, he might as well run off and hide in a jungle, as this tweet suggests.
There are so many things wrong with the conversations that Alia Bhatt’s pregnancy has sparked. Instead of celebrating each of these as choices we are comparing them and passing judgement on who is better or who is a bigger threat to society’s norms on pregnancy, childbearing, motherhood and women’s priorities in general.
Both Bhatt and Padukone deserve our backing for the choices they have made. It is not our place to scrutinise them, or worse use them as good or bad examples for other women. Leave women and their uteruses alone.
Views expressed are the author’s own.