We can criticize Bollywood films for their item numbers, unrealistic romantic scenarios, chiffon saris in the snow and much more, but their tackle of thought provoking topics is always commendable. We have seen superb films like Black, Taare Zameen Par, 3 Idiots, Dangal and many more which have not only won numerous awards but also left the audience with a message. It goes to show that while we all secretly (and then not so secretly) obsess over overtly-women-objectifying songs, the audience for meaningful content is just as high.
Adding to the list of movies that speak out on hushed-up taboos is the upcoming Padman, that takes the cake as it aims to deal with the supposedly shameful topic of menstruation. The film is produced by Twinkle Khanna and stars Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte in lead roles, as well as a special appearance by Amitabh Bachchan.
The story is based on a series of real events, where a school drop-out, Arunachalam Muruganantham, set out on a mission to provide sanitary napkins at minimal cost to poor women across the country, especially in rural areas. Muruganantham showed immense dedication to this cause by creating a ‘uterus’ for himself from a football and filling it with goat’s blood. He was shunned from his community because he would roam around the whole day with the bladder tied under his clothes to check the absorption rate of the sanitary napkins made by him. It took four-and-a-half years for Muruganantham to create a low-cost machine for the production of sanitary pads, and today he is successfully running a business, Jayashree Industries, with 2003 units across India. He went on to win the Padma Shri award, and was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2014.
Not only is his story inspiring, and much needed to educate more people about menstrual hygiene, it is also commendable to see this issue being brought up on the big screen. For us in this part of the world where sanitary napkins are hidden in brown paper bags and their TVCs leave us feeling annoyed, this initiative should be applauded and treated as a stepping-stone. It is mind-boggling that issues as basic as menstrual health and hygiene should be treated as taboo in this day and age.
The actors involved are trying their best to break the stigma attached to menstruation and have prolifically shared their views regarding the matter.
“Break the silence on menstruation, periods are nothing to hide!” tweeted Akshay Kumar while sharing a video with a powerful poem, ‘To Bleed Without Violence’.
Twinkle Khanna has shared that the impact she wants this film to have is for the government to make pads tax-free. “Eventually, I hope we can make sanitary pads tax-free. There is already a petition online asking for the same. Because these are things where there shouldn’t be any tax. They are necessities, not luxuries,” the actress rightfully stated in an interview.
The film is still in the process of shooting, and is expected to release next year.