Was Aishwarya sacked for being pregnant?
When it’s an accusation involving high-profile celebs and millions are at stake, very few are ever willing to come on record to spill the truth.
Such seemed to be the case of the very pregnant Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s and director Madhur Bandharkar’s “Heroine” saga, which has seen the rumour mills work over time these last few days, regarding the fate of this very expensive UTV Motion Pictures production.
But UTV finally broke its silence over the drama, by issuing a statement earlier today, saying: “At this point nothing is more important than Aishwarya’s well-being and good health.
“In that context, we have all mutually agreed that the best step would be to avoid shooting further, rather than proceeding with an incredibly demanding schedule over the coming months.”
However, insiders say there is more than what meets the eye in this saga.
Those in the Bachchan camp state that the mother-to-be was indeed clueless over her state of pregnancy and is still very committed to completing the project as per scheduled for completion on July 31 – the supposed final day of the “Heroine” shooting.
Those in the Bandharkar-UTV camp claim that the Bachchan daughter-in-law hid the fact she was pregnant when the project was announced at the Cannes Film Festival in May, thinking she could sneakily wrap it up before the pregnancy started to show.
What’s the truth, you ask? Emirates 24|7 lays down the facts to show the glitz, the glamour and the dark side of the controversy that engulfs “Heroine”.
Case for the defendant: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
It was a cool and breezy day in Cannes, when world media descended on to the beach to welcome a glowing Rai Bachchan and filmmakers Bhandarkar and UTV head honcho, Ronnie Screwvala, to announce their upcoming reality-based film, “Heroine”.
The film, which was being made on a shoestring budget (for Bollywood standards at least) of Rs180 million, had seen Rai Bachchan step into the shoes of Kareena Kapoor, who had signed on for the film, but for reasons only known to her, backed out last minute.
It was said that Rai Bachchan slashed her starry salary of Rs60m to accommodate the filmmakers, but in return asked for a stake in the film’s profits and became the first heroine (pardon the pun) to do so in Bollywood.
Committing to the dates in bulk, and even shooting for the film for 10 days, the news allegedly befell on her and the entire Bachchan family that she was in fact 4.5 months pregnant.
Sources close the actress say that the 37-year-old still believes she can complete the shooting by July 31 and then take a long sabbatical from her career to look after her new family member.
But insiders say that delays in shooting could see the project delayed by over a month and that could prove a hindrance if Rai Bachchan’s baby bump starts to grow; then there’s heavy post production work and promotional activities to account for, which would require the lead actress present at all times.
The only option for the filmmakers now is to either shelve the film or find a replacement. Whatever the verdict, it would still mean that Rai Bachchan is being shown the door for being pregnant.
Case for the prosecution: The filmmakers of “Heroine”
‘Deceit’ is the word that insiders from the production house are using off record, to describe Rai Bachchan’s actions towards the unit of “Heroine”.
A source from the UTV production house said on the condition of anonymity: “Abhishek Bachchan (Rai Bachchan’s husband) has announced to the world that the baby is due in November. Which means she is 4.5 months pregnant now, if not longer.
“How is it even possible that she did not know she was pregnant back in May, right around the completion of her first trimester?”
It is being openly whispered now in the Bollywood circles that Rai Bachchan took on the job knowing she was expecting and duped the filmmakers, thinking she could pull the con off.
However, insiders say a case of cold feet and production delays for “Heroine” prompted the actress to give husband Abhishek the green light to tell her father-in-law to announce the news to the world.
And Bollywood screen legend Amitabh Bachchan, indeed did express his excitement at becoming a grandfather to the world on Twitter and his blog.
Is the verdict valid?
Legal eagles have jumped in to give their two-bit that while it is discrimination to sack someone from their job for being pregnant, many Hollywood, Bollywood and modelling contracts do come with a no-pregnancy clause.
While only Rai Bachchan and the filmmakers know if such a contract had been signed, we believe the only outcome in this case file was the one that was decided upon, that both parties bow out of the project for a short while and return to the table afresh a few months later.
For Rai Bachchan, basking in motherhood, the blow won’t be as harsh if the filmmakers decide to resurrect “Heroine” with a new lead star, such as Priyanka Chopra – news that is also doing the rounds – a few months later.
For the filmmakers, shelving the project for a while won’t turn the Aishwarya Rai Bachchan fan club and the rest of the Bachchan brethren against them. Rather it would earn them respect from all involved and once the heat blows over, they could revive the film with a new “Heroine” (pun intended this time).
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