“Hum aurton ke liye bimari se marna sharm ke saath jeene se behtar hai”. On one hand, we are entering the digitalisation revolution, and on the other, womenfolk in our country are still reluctant to talk about the menstrual cycle. This really needs thought and is what forms the subject of R. Balki’s movie Padman.
Based on the short story, ‘The Sanitary Man of Sacred Land’ in a book by Twinkle Khanna titled ‘The Legend of Lakshmiprasad’, the movie Padman, released on Feb 9, 2018, is inspired by the real-life story of Arunachalam Muruganantham, who introduced the low-cost sanitary pad.
Laksmikant Chauhan (Akshay Kumar), a welder, is concerned about his wife (Gayatri) who uses cloth during her periods and is not ready to opt for the expensive sanitary napkins, which Lakshmikant lovingly brings her, much to the embarrassment of the chemist and the ladies at the counter. The people around him feel immensely awkward when he talks about, let alone buy sanitary pads.
Balki has beautifully captured the taboos and social dilemmas attached to the subject and how difficult it is for a man like Lakshmikant to approach the issue of menstrual hygiene in a society that considers this a “women’s problem” to be tackled in a discreet manner.
Lakshmikant, the innovator that he is, is hellbent to change the pre-conceived notions of the society and help women embrace the menstrual cycle without feeling shy and awkward. He comes out with his own low-cost sanitary napkins against all odds and in turn, empowers village women to earn a living by manufacturing and selling the affordable alternative to dirty cloth.
How Lakshmikant battles all odds with the support of Pari (Sonam Kapoor) to come up with an affordable solution and is recognised in his endeavours by the UN and the Indian Government, forms the rest of the story.
Padman: A Feather in Balki’s Cap
It must indeed have been quite difficult for Balki to deal with an issue so looked down upon and “secretive”. The way the director comes up with the concept and the script weaves the narrative without sounding in the manner of a documentary, retaining the essence of the subject in a light-hearted way is simply commendable. At no point in time does the film slip away from its objectives.
The Padman movie features brilliant performances by Sonam Kapoor, Radhika Apte, Akshay Kumar, and Suniel Sinha amongst the other supporting cast. The music is breathtaking, as is the cinematography that captures the beauty of Maheshwar town in Madhya Pradesh.
It’s Time to Shed Inhibitions
We are living in an era where women are making their mark on all frontiers, while on the other end of the spectrum, they still face inhibitions talking about menstruation and menstrual hygiene.
The movie Padman is a powerful blow on the face of the society, which considers the woman as an incarnation of Shakti, the Goddess, but has no hesitations in secluding her when she goes through her biological cycle.
A must watch on all counts, this film will set you thinking. With the International Women’s day just around the corner, it’s time to introspect. In the words of Lakshmikant, “Big man, strong man not making country strong. Woman strong, mother strong, sister strong, then country strong”.