John Abraham’s first home production, Vicky Donor, which opens on April 20, revolves around the still taboo and contentious issue of infertility. But the actor is hopeful that the film will spread awareness about sperm donation as a viable alternative to childless couples. “Ever since the promos started airing, we’ve been getting mails and calls from fertility centres on how they can pitch in, without even seeing the film,” he exults.
However, John admits that even today, the idea of accepting a stranger’s sperm is strictly no-no for progressive single girls living in metros. “Recently, I brought up the subject with three such youngsters, one of whom said she would adopt if she couldn’t concieve, the other said sperm donation was absolutely out and the third admitted that it would be an option only if all other alternatives were exhausted,” says John, who is surprised by their inhibitions given that it’s perfectly acceptable for the terminally ill and for elderly spouses abroad to freeze their sperm."Even in India, soldiers and border security forces are known to do so when going to war or manning troubled areas," he adds. So will star producer John Abraham donate his own sperm for public good? "Why not?" he retorts.
"But if it happens, it would be for purely altruistic and philanthropic reasons and definitely not for commercial gains. As my lead actor Ayushmann says, if we can donate blood to blood banks to save a life, why can’t we donate sperms to give a life?"
‘Will pay up to Rs 1 lakh’
As part of his research, director Soojit Sircar of Vicky Donor says they met up with IVF specialist Dr Malpani, who set up the first sperm bank in India, along with doctors in Delhi and Mumbai.
"While footballer David Beckham’s sperm is most wanted in the west, couples in India are ready to pay big money for top CEOs and even advertise for an IITian’s sperm," he says, adding that the normal rate is Rs 10,000-15,000, but couples will pay even up to Rs 1 lakh with generous tips. Most focus on the family background and what the donor does.
But even after getting the desired one, in 70 per cent of cases, the woman may not end up pregnant. "Only in rare instances is the hit rate 70-80 per cent," says Soojit. The business is still disorganised and full of quacks, he warns.
But now more young couples are open to the idea, particularly among Mumbai’s upper and upper-middle classes. Soojit attributes the change to women coming out of their conservative upbringing to accept a donor’s sperm: "My writer, Juhi Chaturvedi, is a woman. I told myself if she could talk about this, I could make a film on the subject."