Sara’s asks serious questions about the clash between women’s career and mothering but lacks empathy and a holistic perspective. A determined and sexually adventurous female since her adolescence, Sara has always been clear about not giving birth and she is thoroughly focused on her career as a filmmaker. Later she gets married to Jeevan, who was also in line with her version of not having a child. But their work-life challenges when Sara accidentally gets pregnant. The film also depicts the life of a popular film actor, Anjali who has quit acting to attend to her duties as a housewife and a mother. “I had permitted her to do some television ads or become a judge in reality TV shows”, says Anjali’s husband full of entitlement. A typical patriarchal statement that conveniently forgets woman’s own will and agency. Another victim of the system is Srinda’s mother character who never stops conceiving and giving birth.
However, Jude Antony’s latest movie crucially sticks to the concept of abortion when Sara accidentally gets pregnant. “The child is a hindrance to her career,” says the protagonist, though she claims to her father that aborting isn’t for her career. Unlike many women who struggle between their career aspirations and pregnancies, Sara has a very supportive husband and father, though the former changes his mind when she is pregnant.
The rude insensitivity of the movie is when Sara doesn’t consider the possibility that there could be people who may enjoy motherhood above their “career”. According to Sara, those who have no dreams and goals are worthless. The way she asks her mother-in-law about what she has gained in life lacked sensitivity and compassion. Although social and familial compulsions on motherhood are to be contested, choices are something that deserves respect.
There is also Sara accusing her husband of changing his stands when he insists to keep the child. And she treats him with contempt. Jeevan who never wanted to be a father has now turned out to be a baby waiter. It is not an easy decision for Jeevan, unlike Sara. But the film hardly makes an effort to let us get into Jeevan’s world of thoughts and emotions. When a woman decides to abort, does her man have no say in that? If that’s the case, what sort of a family and relationship the movie is preaching about? The film ignores Jeevan’s silent objection to Sara’s decision and neglects his emotions.
Then there is the doctor who goes on to compare pregnancy with preparing for an entrance exam. The counseling scene was lazily written, just to endorse Sara’s decision, without giving any thought to its nuances.
The ethical concern on the veracity of abortion is something to ponder about. Sadly, the filmmaker does not consider the fact that the foetal beat starts at least 3 to 4 weeks of pregnancy after conception, or 5 to 6 weeks after the first day of the last menstrual period. And morning sickness, feeling nauseous around the sixth week of pregnancy, typically two weeks after the first missed periods. In other words, an innocent heart has already started beating. And abortion kills a life.
Sara’s is an extremely relevant, realistic, well-acted but mediocre movie. The idea was great but the way they delivered it was insensitive. The major drawback is that every character in this film is agreeable to a fault. It works as an educational film, but the conservative setting fails to create any dramatic tension in the narration. The film wastes time repeating the obvious and well-known. This film has a very way of belittling motherhood and bound the idea of her career into aborting the child. Over-glorification of motherhood in our popular movies is often misogynist, no doubt. Still, it would have been great if they showed different views of people about the norms of having children with a message that some are happily enjoying the joys of motherhood but others are also happy without children.
The crucial point we miss out on is the need of our society to radically reimagine workspace and career spaces as child-friendly and parent-friendly. And one also needs to raise questions on the sacrifices women have to make to raise a kid.
Many people may take this as an excuse or inspiration for abortion for any other reason. There is a good number of people who love to do parenting. Lots of professionals willingly quit the job and thoroughly enjoy parenting. Not having a child of course can be a woman’s choice. Balancing and encouraging motherhood with a career could have been more reassuring to many women and families.
Fathima Nidha in an independent writer based in Kerala