Padman trailer: Akshay Kumar's new film is making menstrual hygiene trend

The message should hopefully reach 52 per cent women who do not use hygienic methods during menstruation.

 |  7-minute read |   17-12-2017
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Within two days of release, the trailer of Akshay Kumar-starrer Padman crossed 20 million views. #PadManTrailer started trending on Twitter and remained one of the top videos on YouTube for two days. This has resulted in a lot of people suddenly talking about menstruation and women’s health on social media.

The trailer of the movie, based on the life of social entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganantham, who invented a machine to produce cheaper sanitary napkins, is igniting hope that there will be real conversation on women's health and hygiene. This also hammers home how real issues need to borrow reel glamour to be brought to the discussion table.


Real padman had it hard 

The trailer of the movie, directed by R Balki, offers a sneak peek into the struggles of Coimbatore-based Murugananthan, played by Akshay Kumar. For Murugananthan, the first stiff resistance in his strange pursuit of a cheaper alternative to sanitary napkins came from his family. In the opening scene, the trailer draws a comparison between Superman, Batman and Padman. Then it goes on to show how women in his family react when he gifts a sanitary napkin to his sister on Raksha Bandhan. He can't explain to them that there can’t be a better gift on the occasion than a sanitary napkin. While Radhika Apte plays the role of his wife, Sonam Kapoor will also make an appearance in the movie.


Arunachalam Murugananthan, who was awarded with Padma Shri in 2016 for his innovation, got to know about menstruation after he got married in 1998. He came to know how women, who can’t afford sanitary napkins, compromise on their health and depend on unhygienic household items to save money. He started experimenting but no one was ready to test his product. So he had to do it himself. This is what Akshay Kumar does in the movie.

In real life, Murugananthan created a “uterus” from a football and filled it with goat's blood. He tested his own product by carrying that “uterus” and pumping out blood from it.


Twitteratis are hopeful about GST

Given Akshay Kumar's credibility in playing characters, which successfully put across social messages, the issue of GST on sanitary napkins has also resurfaced with the launch of the trailer. Akshay's image-building as a social messenger was initiated with Baby (2015), which dealt with terrorism. Then in 2016, Akshay starred in Rustom, for which he also received the National Award. Early this year, he co-produced and acted in Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, which addressed the issue of open defecation. 

Now that he has taken up the issue of menstruation, twitteratis are hopeful that the government will reconsider its decision to levy 12 per cent GST on sanitary napkins after seeing Akshay's movie.

However, the Centre has said that sanitary napkins would cost more if the GST is reduced to nil as there will be a complete denial of input tax credit to domestic manufacturers.

Will there be a real conversation?

The movie, slated to release on January 26, 2018, has already received much applause from the film fraternity. Twinkle Khanna, the producer of the film, who first featured Arunachalam Muruganantham in her book The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad, expressed hope that the movie will at least encourage people to start talking about menstruation and women's health in their homes.


No doubt, the trailer, which shows a school-dropout Akshay Kumar talking about women empowerment in broken English, has started a debate as people, irrespective of gender, are talking about it. But it remains to be seen whether it can actually start a conversation within homes, where it is required the most.

While Arunachalam Murugananthan’s firm Jayashree Industries has 2003 units across the country, according to the data of National Family Health Survey (2015-16), about 57.6 per cent women use hygienic methods during menstruation. In urban areas, the figure is 77.5 per cent, while it’s 48.2 per cent in rural areas.

The social media clamour over Padman must reach the other 52 per cent.

Also read: Free power subsidy to all farmers is costing Punjab dear


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