The release of Padman was delayed because of a friendly gesture from superstar Akshay Kumar to director Sanjay Leela Bhansali of Padmavaat, so that their two movies don’t clash in the box office. You may remember that Padmavaat was originally scheduled for a December 2017 release but was hit by controversies that saw it pushed to a later date in January 2018, which Padman also occupied.
Finally, the film opened to packed audiences, mostly because of the curiosity of the subject – a man making sanitary pads – and of course, the superstar appeal of lead actor Akshay Kumar.
Padman is the story based on the life of inventor of the low cost sanitary pad making machine Arunachalam Muruganantham. His journey was captured in the book The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad, which has been written by Twinkle Khanna. The book contains four short stories about feminism and Muruganantham’s is titled “The Sanitary Man of Sacred Land”. Twinkle Khanna is also the producer of the film Padman under the banner Mrs Funnybones which is the writer’s identity. She is also Akshay Kumar’s wife.
Akshay Kumar plays the role of Muruganantham and for the ease of reaching a wider audience, his character is called Lakshmi. Lakshmi gets married and when his wife gets her periods, she is supposed to sleep outside their bedroom in a room designated for ladies during that time of the month. When Lakshmi starts learning more about menstruation, he also realises the heavy cost, but mostly the lack of knowledge in the society, about sanitary pads.
Thus, begins his quest to safeguard his wife’s health, in turn bringing a change in his village and later, to the rest of the country. He faces many insults, trials and tribulations but he succeeds in the end.
Director R Balki has directed Padman and kept close to his signature theme of social change through the story of a couple. There are plenty of moments between Lakshmi and his wife Gayatri (Radhika Apte) that are part of any couple’s life. Balki keeps it real. Sonam Kapoor does a wonderful job in her character of Pari Walia who is shown in the film as the conduit for Lakshmi and his first success for being recognized by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi for his revolutionary machine.
Akshay Kumar is a shining beacon for actors who are self-made, those who have no previous familial ties in the film industry, and also, those who have been stereotyped as just action heroes. He is a strong contender for the National Award and this is his best and most influential film ever.
Harleen Jabbal is a Bollywood film writer and critic for her blog FilmiVeryFilmi.
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