Anti-Abortion to Anti-Adoption: Good Newwz Falls Prey to Prejudice
The film has some promise, but it quickly descends into a conservative narrative.
“Apna khoon toh apna hota hai” - Monica Batra (Kiara Advani) mutters this when Deepti Batra (Kareena) broaches the subject of adoption in Good Newwz. The latter resides in a posh Bombay high-rise, is a successful entertainment journalist and she never bats an eyelid while uttering “sexual relations.” Why the need for this long a biodata? Because I am sure you must be hoping that Deepti would have a perfect comeback for this archaic mentality. With a heavy heart, I will have to break it to you that Deepti’s eyes well up listening to Monica’s golden words.
Debutant Raj Mehta’s directorial Good Newwz starts with some promise. Well past her prime, Deepti wants to conceive but is unable to because of some complications. She and her husband Varun (Akshay Kumar) decide to go in for in-vitro fertilisation, something that Kapoor discusses in the most matter-of-fact manner.
She doesn’t flinch while discussing her sex life and is open to alternate methods of conception. That’s definitely a fresh take given Bollywood’s past, wherein infertile women are shown as repressed and unreasonable.
Take for instance Chori Chori Chupke Chupke. It was the age when happily-ever-afters would last just about four scenes because high-pitched emotional drama overshadowed logic. Priya (Rani Mukerji) suffers a miscarriage and discovers she won’t be able to conceive. So she coaxes her husband Raj (Salman Khan) to ‘find’ a woman who will agree to have a baby with him. Surrogacy is a sensitive topic, but the film decides to dumb it down with the thought that ‘Indian women are incomplete without motherhood’. Secondly, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna also played along the same insensitive thought. Even Filhaal saw Tabu being stubborn when her best friend agrees to be her surrogate.
Just when Good Newwz manages to clothe Kareena in the most stylish outfit and breezy thoughts there comes a sharp descent. The ‘posh’ Batras fall victim to medical negligence when there’s a sperm mix-up with another ‘tacky Punjabi’ couple by the same surname. While Deepti become pregnant with Honey’s (Diljit Dosanjh) sperm, Monica is inseminated with Varun’s.
The moment this shocking revelation comes out, Varun prances around in rage, proclaiming that Deepti get an abortion done because he won’t tolerate a small Honey in their lives. Not even for once is the woman asked for her opinion and it’s shocking that she stays mum on whether or not to keep the child. If that isn’t enough, there’s a cringeworthy anti-abortion lecture that falls out of the doctor’s mouth. While getting a sonography done, Dr Joshi (Tisca Chopra) makes Deepti watch to the heartbeat of the foetus and then asks her if she would like to ‘kill’ the child. “Being pregnant is a blessing for any woman, but it is a miracle in your case,” beams the doc, and Deepti is brainwashed. She even passes that bug on to her husband - “We don’t want to be murderers, right?” Is this supposed to be the progressive drama of 2019 wherein an anti-abortion stance goes unchallenged?
Not just abortion, but adoption is also scorned upon. There are at least two instances wherein Deepti favours adoption over the insanely expensive IVF, but she is only met with responses like “but your child is your own, right?” My story begins with Monica’s dialogue, so let me elaborate on it.
Despite having two miscarriages, Monica still undertakes the risk of carrying a child. There is one stray sequence wherein a doctor (Adil Hussain) speaks about the “obsession with genes”, but that gets brushed under the prejudiced layers.
Also, what’s with pregnant mothers being perpetually nagging and irritating? “Surgical strike” - that’s what sex is referred to by Varun. An insensitive prick, his only question to the doc when the pregnancy is finalised is - “but I will be able to go to work, na?” Excuse me?
While Deepti reads books on pregnancy, the man has to bury himself in Marquez. He has no regard for the life that is blooming inside his wife. Concerns about the child not kicking can go to hell. “Can’t I live in peace?,” roars a drunk Varun when Deepti expresses her worry. A two-minute monologue about the challenges of motherhood has to be drilled into his thick skull to shake his conscience. Even Honey has no regard for his wife. He focuses all his attention to ensuring that his ‘gene’ is safe.
For a film that deals with a vulnerable time in a couple’s life, throwing in some funny lines and garish characters doesn’t absolve it of responsibilities.
After all, not everything is a butt of joke and Punjabi ‘clowns’ and tone-deaf jokes like ‘slip dicks’ (instead of slip-disc) don’t deliver the best news anymore.
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