In the third installment of the popular Marathi rom-com series, Gautam (Swapnil Joshi) and Gauri (Mukta Barve) are finally married. Mumbai Pune Mumbai 3 starts off with showing their cosy, pleasant and messy domestic life.
After an unexpected pregnancy, the couple mutually decides to abort the foetus, since they want to wait till their careers and finances are more secure. Both the partners have rationally thought out this argument, and seem convinced of their decision. This film, through a beloved couple, tries to engage in conversation about a rarely addressed topic – abortion for married couples. MPM 3 also shows the option of medical abortion through pills (non-surgical) and speaks about the legally allotted 20 week period for carrying out abortions. The film begins on a progressive, positive, and well-informed note.
That is, until their parents and close relatives come to know of their decision. A snooping grandmother finds the pills that Gauri is supposed to take. Equipped with a firm pro-life belief, she assembles the couple’s parents and blows the issue out of proportion. A decision which will affect the couple’s lives becomes a family discussion.
A decision which will affect the couple’s lives becomes a family discussion.
While no one states outright prohibition, the family members withdraw affection, and treat the two differently, especially Gauri. While the couple is left alone to make their own decision, Gautam and Gauri must choose to bear the brunt of this emotionally abusive behaviour, where their parents exhibit silence and aloofness to show their disapproval. This is equally dangerous, if not more so, than outright prohibition. It puts an immense amount of pressure on the couple.
This is not a mere decision of abortion any more. If they choose to go ahead, their families, who are an important part of their lives, will treat them differently. Even as Gautam and Gauri bring out their personal goals and issues that led them to this decision, they are shot down by their family. This highlights the fact that even in families as educated and privileged as theirs, it is the collective family unit that controls the woman’s reproductive rights. Not the woman herself.
Gauri is shown having a ‘change of heart’ as she comes round to abiding by her social expectations. She also goes behind Gautam’s back more than once and involves the family in their pregnancy, even though he is shown to be perfectly respectful and supportive of her choices. It falls upon the woman to be naturally drawn to motherhood. Gautam is portrayed as immature, and it is often reiterated that he will grow into the role of the father. Abortion in this film is viewed as an immature, cowardly, and an immoral choice.
Perhaps the biggest disservice it does to abortion rights, is by having an animated version of a baby speaking directly to the audience, right from the moment Gautam and Gauri find out about the pregnancy. By giving a form and a child’s voice to the foetus, the filmmakers perpetrate a dangerous notion. The viewer is forced to see the foetus as a fully-developed being, with a voice.
The viewer is forced to see the foetus as a fully-developed being, with a voice.
Bollywood films like Kya Kehnaa, Salaam Namaste, and more recently, Ribbon, have all made an attempt at discussing the issue of abortion. In most of these cases, the woman goes ahead with the pregnancy. An outlier would be Aitraaz, where Priyanka Chopra’s outrightly negative character goes through an abortion. She is portrayed as a villain for picking her career over motherhood. The good girl-bad girl dualism and moral policing of a woman who does not wish to become a mother is pushed in subtle and obvious ways, in each of these films.
MPM 3, in spite of having made a positive start towards abortion rights, fails in its bid to appease the family audiences. And by portraying the foetus as an animated baby, this film does a disservice, instead of creating awareness that abortion is an option, even for married women.
Featured Image Source: Technical Devid