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10 Years of Vicky Donor - Shoojit Sarcar sheds inhibition on IVF and sperm donation

Sadiq Suleman

It’s been 10 years since Vicky Donor was released on this day, i.e. 20th April 2012. It was the first time John Abraham came on board as the producer of a film. Vicky Donor also marked Ayushmann Khurana and Yami Gautam’s debut in Hindi films. The film is about a young Punjabi sperm donor Vicky (Ayushmann) whose abilities are encashed by Dr. Baldev Chaddha (Annu Kapoor) till he falls in love with a Bengali bank worker Ashima (Yami) and bears the consequences of his actions. Vicky Donor went on to become a sleeper hit.

Vicky Donor never intended to be a film specifically about a sperm donor. Instead the theme was used as the backdrop for deep studies of varied cultures and humans that are conflicted by their own choices. Vicky Donor hilariously mixes comic moments with the serious social issue of childlessness and sperm donation and has been highly successful as a result. The manner in which the topic of sperm donation was illustrated is one of the most engaging narratives thematically to have come out of Hindi cinema.

It is also essential to note that sperm donation is nothing unusual in India. However, people prefer to not discuss this taboo topic. People rarely talk about sperm donation in a country where childlessness is usually a cause of social tension with women mostly blamed for the infertility even before their male partners experience a test. According to a 2018 research by Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction, infertility currently affects about nearly 15% of the Indian population, with higher rates in urban areas where one out of six couples is impacted. Almost 28 million couples in India actively trying to conceive suffer from infertility.

Apart from its thought provoking concept, it is meant to keep in mind that much of the dialogue in ‘Vicky Donor’ is sourced from real-life anecdotes. The filmmakers took inspiration from patients and doctors they met while they were researching the movie. The film’s trailer showed a childless couple seeking a cricketer’s sperm sample so that their offspring could play for the country and also create a lot of money.

Despite marketing attention-grabbers such as men dressed in sperm suits, the makers of Vicky Donor did initially find it difficult to counter the stigma attached to sperm donation. No mainstream Bollywood star, with the exception of its producer, John Abraham, featured in the promotion of the film. Director Shoojit Sarcar said he didn’t even bother asking the Indian film industry’s reigning heroes. As a substitute, newcomer Ayushmann Khurrana, a known face on Indian television who donated sperm as part of a reality TV show task, was cast in the lead role. 

Sperm donation is something not generally discussed openly, at least no one has the knowledge of the lives of professional sperm donors in India, as said by many critics. If this film is able to give a perspective to the whole thing even if in a comic way, then the director is worthy of kudos for bringing an important issue out in the open.

The impact of Vicky Donor success on the cast and crew has been huge. Ayushmaan Khurrana has been working on similar genres as Vicky where he tackles a unique subject about health and social issues along with light humor. Yami Gautam has also featured in films with many similar themes. The film also resulted in a successful collaboration in the future for Juhi Chaturvedi and Shoojit Sarcar that went on to write script and screenplay for many other successful films such as Piku, Madras Cafe, Gulabo Sitabo etc. Shoojit and Juhi also brought together the world of Delhi bongs and the refugee colony of Lajpat in the most authentic way. This also laid the groundwork for creating a landmark film that will remain a classic for years.

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