"Come on, darling, say goodbye with a smile"
Papiha is told. She's a surrogate mother, paid to produce babies. She gave birth to twins just 3 weeks before. Now the new parents have arrived and Papiha is visibly upset. An emotional attachment only a mother and baby can form, is about to be broken. The future parents misleadingly say, "you will see them everyday, come to our hotel"
. It's a knowing lie, for the only connection Papiha has with the twins she gave birth to, are hotel phone numbers, which will soon become irrelevant.
"You know that it belongs to someone else. So you don't let yourself feel anything. You keep telling yourself that the child isn't yours"
, confides Parul, describing how she battles the pain of giving up a child. For others this level of stoicism doesn't come so easy. "Let's keep the babies"
, Papiha's mother says towards the end of the pregnancy. "Even if I dream about it, it is only a dream"
, replies Papiha. Not only is the process emotionally draining, but in a nation where the family is the heart, surrogacy is a "stigma". So for 9 months a year these women are hidden from society, in a business of birth.
"Government does not provide housing, food or medicine to poor people"
, explains Dr Patel. Surrogacy is often one of few options left to women in India's patriarchal society. Many have suffered trauma in the past. "He beat up the kids and me. I didn't want to live any more"
, confides Parul. Heena was forced into an unhappy marriage before she had her "first period", and Nisha only sees her kids once a month.
The complicated post-modern cycle of life is laid bare in this dauntless documentary. Exploring the birth cycle through the lives of women who care for their babies, only to have them taken away. We are left questioning how strong a woman must be to go through so much, all for another mother's dream.
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First Steps Awards Nominee Best Documentary 2013, Germany
Victor Alexis Thalberg Award 2013, Switzerland
Dokfest Munich Speed Pitch Award 2010, Germany
Visions du Reel 2013, Switzerland
Festroia Film Festival 2013, Portugal
Message to Man Festival 2013, Russia
Vancouver International Film Festival 2013, Canada
30th Kasseler Dokfest 2013, Germany
Film Festival Max Ophüls 2014
Solothurner Filmtage 2014