Bollywood cinema smashes the taboo

- Advertisement -

The world’s first feature film on female’s period is set to be released all around the world with a message and goodwill against the monthly periods on female. This comedy segment carries a message to against the taboo of female menstruation.

This scene captures the 20-year struggle by a poor school drop-out from southern India, starting as a guy that he had to buy sanitary pad for his menstruated wife and ends up changing the mentality of all the men and certainly the women of all around the world.

After building toilets, Akshay Kumar takes on menstrual hygiene

Padman tells the life story of Tamil Nadu-based social activist Arunachalam Muruganantham, who revolutionized the concept of menstrual hygiene in rural India by creating a low-cost sanitary napkins machine. This true inspirable story is played by Bollywood star Akshay Kumar – cycles through his local village waving cheerfully.

Apart from Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar is probably the only Bollywood actor who is receiving critical and commercial acclaim with most of his films. In fact, it seems like he has found a formula that works every time for the shake and the worthen matinee popcorn show up.

It started in 1998 when newly married Muruganantham noticed his wife Shanti hiding something. “It was a nasty rag cloth – she was going to use it during her menstruation. I wouldn’t even use it to clean my vehicle,” he tells to address his wife. Unbeknown to his neighbors, he is testing the effectiveness of his new invention by wearing pink pants and a home-made sanitary pad which is slowly filling with goat’s blood from a football bladder tied around his waist. With this Muruganantham invented a low-cost machine that revolutionized women’s sanitary. On the initial phases this led up with laughter and taboo senses but gradually this laughter of the comedy – Pad Man hiked up with a worth.

“So I decided to gift her a sanitary pad. The shopkeeper gave it to me as a smuggled product. Out of curiosity I opened the packet. The cotton product was sold for four rupees (4p) – 40 times what it cost to make.”

Muruganantham, now 55, threw himself into researching a cheaper alternative.

Period poverty leaves an estimated 300 million women in India without access to sanitary products – making them vulnerable to disease, infertility and even death.

He began analyzing pads from Western companies, canvassing opinions – and used napkins – of female medical students and, finally, tested his inventions out himself.

“I wanted volunteers to try my new pads and give me feedback – but not even my wife was ready.”

It all came at a cost.

“My wife left, mother left. The whole village thought I had a sexual disease,” he explains.

“The great mother whom we call Innana gave a gift to woman that is not known among men, and this is the secret of blood. The flow at the dark of the moon, the healing blood of the moon’s birth – to men, this is flux and distemper, bother and pain. They imagine we suffer and consider themselves lucky. We do not disabuse them.”

“In the red tent, the truth is known. In the red tent, where days pass like a gentle stream, as the gift of Innana courses through us, cleansing the body of last month’s death, preparing the body to receive the new month’s life, women give thanks — for repose and restoration, for the knowledge that life comes from between our legs, and that life costs blood.” 
― Anita Diamant, The Red Tent

But he persevered, and in 2006 launched not-for-profit Jayaashree Industries, which supplies machines making Muruganantham’s sanitary pads at cost-price to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and women’s organizations across India.

Today it reaches an estimated 40 million Indian women, and there are plans to take the machines to Kenya, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Bangladesh.

As a female oriented movie, Glazing Twinkle Khanna, Akshya’s wife and producer of his upcoming film Padman, has tweeted the first look of the film and it seems Akshay Kumar is all set to work his charm again. She says her immediately gripped by the magnitude of what he had achieved. “I thought this was a remarkable story which really needed to reach every household in India, and globally, because I think the taboo around menstruation is not just in India, it’s a global problem.”

This 50-years-old popular and powerful Indian role model has a history of political message projects and is now calling for sanitary pads to be made free for all women in India to secure the female hygiene

“Tackling the taboo is very important to me, because I am only now learning about the extent of the crises that countries around the world have been suffering with and certainly this will be one of the first pictures to polarize the attitudes against the taboo and consequently the female menstrual cycles,” he tells.

“I’m ashamed to say how little of all this I knew, which is why this issue has become so close to my heart.

“The conversation is starting though – I’ve seen men talking about pads on my social media account.

“After Pad Man starts the conversation, it will be up to audiences to take it forward and help to end all of the taboos around periods worldwide.”

“We have worked with Muruganantham for a few years now – we use one of his machines in India – and he really does have a halo,” she says.

“The conversation has definitely been started around this film – the words ‘pad’ and ‘periods’ have been used more in the last month than in the last 10 years.”

The potentially revolutionary nature of Pad Man lies not only in how it tackles a subject that is still considered unmentionable in many countries, but also in the vote of confidence from distributors Sony Pictures in giving a foreign language film about periods a worldwide release as a major motion picture.

The real ‘Pad Man’, who now has a daughter with his wife after she came back to him, feels “happy” about seeing his life on the big screen but prefers to throw a spotlight on the women taking the movement forward.

Despite his success, he owns no shares in his company and earns roughly 70,000 Rupees (£790) a month – enough for him to cover the storage and transportation for the raw material he imports from the US and Germany.

“A school drop-out, to a rural innovator, to now [there being] a movie, shows the power of dreams,” Muruganantham says.

“My vision is to make India into a 100% sanitary-pad using country. Menstruation is no more a taboo.”

Will it influence the Nepal’s Chhaupadi Pratha (छाउपडी – Menstrual Taboo In Nepal)?

As like this movie even Western and Far-Western Nepal is suffering with this harmful tradition that turns girls into untouchables and consequently lives far from the family, mostly on domestic livestock’s shelter.

The reason for that lies in a Nepali tradition called Chaupadi Pratha. Actually, it was banned by law in 2005 but is still commonly practiced in the mid and western regions of Nepal.  This tradition stipulates that menstruating girls and women are dirty and impure. They are not allowed to enter the kitchen, to attend school or interact socially.

Periods in Nepal are treated as something dirty, impure and contaminating. Girls and women are alienated from society as well as their friends and families during their time of the month. They are forced into harmful social restrictions and have to face inhumane conditions and humiliation.

The most dangerous part of practicing Chaupadi is when girls and women are forced to leave the house. In most cases, that means moving to a small shed in the woods, animal sheds or so-called mud huts. These huts, apart from being dirty, dark and small, hardly ever give adequate shelter against wild animals, rape or the cold.


Pad Man will be released on April 13, 2018.