Amit Ravindernath Sharma’s Badhaai Ho deals with a subject less talked about–the sex life and untimely pregnancy of a middle-aged couple.
It also shows the shock and embarrassment of Nakul Kaushik (Ayushmann Khurrana) and his struggle to grapple with the fact that his parent’s are expecting a child when he himself is of marriageable age. While the plot is fresh and entertaining, it is a story which leaks out of traditional Indian households of 1970s and 1980s.
While millennials might find it embarrassing if put in a similar situation as Nakul, going back to the times when our parents were growing up, this was as normal as using Internet today.
Arun Mishra, a Mumbai-based corporate lawyer was born in 1982 when his father was 56 years old and mother 41. “My jijaji ( brother-in-law) distributed sweets when I was born saying ‘mera saala paida hua hai’ ( my brother-in-law is born). I come from a time when the pregnancy of a mother and her daughter often used to coincide. Two of my nephews are older to me. It was a story of every household in our village, irrespective of their economic status.”
When asked if middle aged pregnancies were ever jibed at, the 36-year old hailing from Bihar remarks that it depended upon where the couple resided. “In villages, it was often taken at a lighter note. Surprisingly, it never came across as a shock to anyone. Rather, was primarily seen as a sign of fertility and a healthy body. Also there was no concept of family planning. Condoms were unheard of. However, in cities the situation might be different.”
Arun and his eldest sister have an age gap of 22 years. “My elder siblings did not find it unusual because it was happening all around them,” reveals the lawyer.
In her recent interview with the cast of Badhaai Ho, journalist-writer Bhawana Somaaya shared a similar story. The Padma Shri awardee remarked that today if a middle aged woman is having a baby, it is considered a big thing, however things were different she was born. “My mother was 45 when she conceived me and when I was born when she was 46. Like the mother’s character in the film, I think she must have been a little bit embarrassed. There are seven siblings older than me. But, my father was very normal about it,” revealed the 68-year old film critic.
Talking to InUth, Dr Bandana Sodhi, a Delhi-based gynecologist said, “We do get elder couples. There are multiple cases where the women are touching 40. However, getting spontaneous pregnancies in late 40s is a rare phenomena.”
Another stereotypical expectation from couples in their late 40s and early 50s is to embark on the road of bhajan-kirtan and abandon all carnal pleasures. However, the gynecologist thinks otherwise. “There is no specific age to enjoy a healthy sex life. It primarily depends upon the mindset. Even couples in the age bracket of 55- 75 can have healthy intimate relationships. It is an individual choice.”
Dr Sodhi also talked about occasional occurrence of unplanned pregnancies where the first child was as old as 16 years. “The first born might find it a bit embarrassing initially, but post counselling, they have always been quite receptive. There was this one girl studying in twelfth standard when her parents were expecting. She was super exited about the arrival of the new sibling.”
While such stories might seem rare today, a back jump of one generation might help find multiple sources which dwelled all around us, in our extended families.
Written by–Rukmani Bakshi