Meet India’s sperm donors

Lhendup G. Bhutia in Open:

ScreenHunter_02 May. 22 14.32In the film Vicky Donor, Annu Kapoor plays Dr Baldev Chaddha, a fertility specialist whose sperm bank in New Delhi is close to shutting down because the quality of his donors’ samples is just too poor to impregnate patients. That’s when Vicky Arora, played by Ayushmann Khurrana, comes in. A good-for-nothing lad who lives off his mother’s beauty parlour, his sperm samples rejuvenate Dr Chaddha’s flagging business. Vicky discovers that the quick buck assured by his virility beats the tedium of managing his uncle’s garment store: every single shot of semen fetches him a wad of Rs 500 notes. And this is how Vicky Arora becomes Vicky Donor and starts wanking for a living.

For all the earnest talk of the film’s intention to cast light on an industry cloaked in secrecy and ridden with stigma, its portrayal of the sperm donation business is but a caricature. The industry does exist, but there are no wads of cash being dispensed, donors don’t hang out at Costa Coffee outlets, and they certainly don’t earn enough to buy cars. Indian donors are mostly outstation students living in cramped hostel rooms, sweating to pay their bills and embarrassed by their need to encash what everyone else flushes down the drain. For some donors, it may be pocket money, but for most it’s the room rent or phone bill. And turning donor entails putting their pride at risk. Every commercial ejaculator must pass a strict selection test. Only the best are signed on. The rejects return home unpaid and dejected.

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