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Discovery Channel crosses the final frontier, films a live birth in India

09-July-2001
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Discovery Channel crosses the final frontier, films a live birth in India

Discovery Channel has crossed the final frontier. It has managed to film an Indian woman giving birth to a child. All for Discovery Channel's two-hour groundbreaking film, World Birth Day, to be aired later this year.

At 8.30 am, July 5, when TV journalists Smita Paul and Martha Spanninger entered the delivery room in Sri Avittam Thrirulal Medical College at Thiruvananthapuram with their video cameras, 23-year-old homemaker Jaya Kumar went into labour. Paul and Spanninger were with her every minute of the way, capturing her anxiety, pain and finally, her joy.

Same time, same day: camera crews entered delivery rooms in seven other cities across the globe. Nazareth, Cairo, Manchester, San Francisco, Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Berlin. Seven women went into labour around the same time. As the mothers-to-be pushed and heaved, the cameras captured it all. All for Discovery Channel's two-hour groundbreaking film, World Birth Day, to be aired later this year.

Precisely at 11:03 p.m. on July 5, Jaya gave birth to a baby boy. It was an anxious moment for all of us present. We introduced her to the baby through the camera. She was delighted,'' says Paul.

Naturally so, but surely this meant encroaching on a woman's most private moment? Many don't believe so. ``It's a documentation of a miracle. Though I don't think you can actually call it reality TV. In a reality show like Survivor there are winners and losers. While childbirth is the biggest reality,'' says Samir Nair, programming head, Star Network.

While women in labour may have got used to the idea of being filmed abroad, in India it's certainly a new trend. World Birth Day has been inspired by Seven Up, a popular documentary that studied the socio-economic profiles of a dozen children across Britain right from the time they were seven: at 14, 21, 28 till they touched 49. ``We want to revisit these children as they grow,'' adds Spanninger. Shades of Truman Show?

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