Madman to PadMan
Reviewer’s Thumb Mark
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope” – Martin Luther King Jr.
R Balki’s film PadMan is about Arunachalam Muraganantham, a man from Coimbatore who out of sheer love for his wife and to deal with her period problems, used his creative bend of mind to produce affordable sanitary pads. This initiative of his, made him a social crusader for menstrual hygiene and a reason for many to be part of community businesses which produce pads by his patented machines. Muraganantham’s path breaking initiative in making affordable sanitary napkins for a larger section in the society who are poor resonates the old adage – ‘Necessity is the mother of invention”.
Films like PadMan, which creates social awareness plays a pivotal role in influencing the minds of people on taboo topics positively to bring in the necessary change in life and their life styles. Such creative ventures are hard to ignore and even challenging to doubt its intentions.
|Image Courtesy: asianage.com|
Lakshmikant Chauhan (Akshay Kumar), the film’s main protagonist is a mechanic by profession who got recently married and brings his wife Gayatri (Radhika Apte) home, where his family comprises of his aging mother and two young sisters who are still in school. Lakshmikant, fondly called as Lakshmi, is disturbed to find his newly wed wife leave the family dinner half done in a jiffy because she sensed that her menstrual cycle has begun for the month. He was more horrified to find a repeatedly used, washed and not so clean stained cloth being dried discretely on a cloth line under her sari. What disturbs him further is that his wife Gayatri segregates herself for the next five days from him and the rest of the family.
|Image Courtesy: hindustantimes.com|
What follows is a curious and emotionally disturbed Lakshmi venturing into activities that shall help him address the menstrual related problems of his wife. His efforts in this regard leads him to come up with different kind of hand-made pads after his visits to medical store to buy expensive pads that cost a bomb for a person like him. His repeated failures make him visit a clinic which leads to some instant gyan on menstrual hygiene and its health hazards if not followed along with a wholly of data to vouch what the doctor lectured to him.
|Image Courtesy: outlookhindi.com|
Radhika Apte as Lakshmi’s wife and Sonam Kapoor as Pari Walia who plays the role of a benefactor to the not so educated Lakshmi make their presence felt in the film. Rakesh Chaturvedi in his short role as a professor makes a commendable impact; it would have been great to see him perform if he could have got some more screen space.
|Image Courtesy: india-forums.com|
R Balki’s film PadMan does a ‘Toilet Ek Prem Katha’ again for Akshay Kumar who by now has mastered to sustain his nationalist hero image by copying and not acknowledging creative projects and films done on the same theme and topic in the past by other fellow industry people who unfortunately didn’t have big names to back them like Balki or Viacom. Akshay Kumar then, during his Toilet Ek Prem Katha outing claimed that his was the first one to talk about sanitation in India whereas the topic was dealt by a documentary filmmaker first and later by a filmmaker Pratik Sharma and Producer-Actor Asmita Sharma who made the first feature film in Bollywood titled as “Gutrun Gutargun’ on the same topic.
|Image Courtesy: mid-day.com|
And now once again, as being claimed, PadMan is not the first film made on the subject in the country. Before R Balki and Mrs Funnybones, three films have been already made on the same taboo subject – 1. Menstrual Man in 2013 a one-hour long documentary directed by Amit Virmani; 2. Phullu a feature film made in 2017 directed by Abhishek Saxena starring Sharib Hashmi; and 3. I-Pad an unreleased feature film actually the first made on the importance of sanitary pads written and directed by Amit Rai. Abhishek Saxena in one of his recent press statement cried foul against the CBFC because his film Phullu which dealt with the same topic of menstrual hygiene like PadMan was issued an ‘A’ certificate and PadMan a U/A certificate.
|The Real PadMan Arunachalam Muruganantham Image Courtesy: daily.social|
A film like PadMan that claims to be a biopic on Arunachalam Muruganantham we find more of Akshay Kumar the hero and less of what Arunchalam Muruganantham was and is in real life. Murugunantham’s humility, mission and struggle to become what he is for the society today is missing in real sense and is superimposed with scenes and dialogues which appears to be too superficial and made up to suit the hero in Akshay Kumar. The film before interval is more situational and therefore one can relate with what is happening but unfortunately the film post interval turns out to be more heroic. The way PadMan procures raw materials from abroad by just a phone call is too childish and the long UN speech doesn’t appear real at all. PadMan from the start to the end is prescriptive and therefore loses its charm of a biopic.
In short, PadMan is a onetime watch. Go and watch Balki’s PadMan if you haven’t seen the other movies made on the same topic before; if you are not keen to know how different and real is Arunachalam Murugunantham than it is shown in this film; and if you give a damn to the growing trend in the industry of claiming to be the first/pioneers and not having the courtesy to acknowledge fellow filmmakers and artist if they have made something similar in terms of theme and concept.
Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 3.25/5
Cast: Akshay Kumar (Lakshmikant Chauhan), Radhika Apte (Gayatri), Sonam Kapoor (Pari Walia), Rakesh Chaturvedi (Professor), Amitabh Bachchan (Cameo)
Genre: Biopic Drama
Directed: R Balki
Producers: Twinkle Khanna, SPE films India, KriArj Entertainment, Cape of Good Films, Hope Productions
Written by: R Balki, Swanand Kirkire (Co-writer)
Based on: The legend of Lakshmi Prasad by Twinkle Khanna
Narrated by: Amitabh Bachchan
Music by: Amit Trivedi
Cinematography: PC Sreeram
Edited by: Chandan Arora
Production Company: Columbia Pictures, Hope Productions, KriArj Entertainment, Mrs. Funnybones Movies
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: 9th February 2018
Duration: 140 Minutes