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Padman: Too Much Padding Around The Meat

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What’s with these feminist Bollywood movies? You come out of the theatre after watching Dangal and wonder whether it was more to do with Aamir’s stardom instead of the heroics of the Phogat sisters. Padman leaves you with a similar dilemma.

The movie is based on the legend of Arunachalam Muruganantham, a ‘man genius’ from Tamil Nadu who is credited with the invention of low-cost pads. The movie grapples between delivering a social message and sustaining the attention of the audience, managing to accomplish a little on both fronts but fully on neither.

Character Introduction

The age-old of technique of setting up the characters with a song has been used in Pad Man. After showing the ritual of ‘saat phere’, the scene cuts straight away to the ‘Suhaagraat’ of Lakshmikant Chauhan (Akshay Kumar) and Gayatri Chauhan (Radhika Apte).  Following one of the quickest ice break moments in human history, the movie takes no time in establishing the intimacy between the lead couple and the devotion of Lakhshmi for his wife’s cause.

Sonam Kapoor is introduced after more than half the movie has already passed. She is brought in as a table player – the most unconvincing one that ever existed – through a scene that could have been easily done away with. The camera keeps cutting wildly from extremely wide shots to close-ups of ‘her’ hands in an unsuccessful attempt to make her character believable to the audience.


Akshay Kumar makes you marvel over the understatedness of his acting skills. He does a great job of balancing between the drama and humour through which the movie keeps moving to and fro. Radhika Apte’s role is bereft of too many layers. She does well with the sobbing which constitutes the major part of her role.

Sonam Kapoor directly lands from the sets of “Raanjhanaa”. From the apparel to dialogue delivery, there is hardly any difference between Zoya and Pari. She hams in some scenes but does a decent job overall.

The supporting cast fails to impress. The performances of Lakshmi’s mother and sisters remind us of the 60s and 70s. Suneel Sinha stands out as Pari’s father. Faiz Khan also does a good job in the role of Haria.

Story And Drama

Realizing the need to hit home a certain message, some overemotional scenes can be discounted for, but there are others which are certainly uncalled for. Especially, the scene in which Lakshmi jumps into the Narmada upon finding that his trouser being begrimed by blood was not needed to be shot in such a melodramatic fashion. The slow-motion shots with heavy background music and a teary-eyed Radhika Apte induces more laughter than sorrow.

A gratuitous kiss between Sonam and Akshay not only takes us away from the main plot but also disrupts the sanctity of their relationship. This abstemious love triangle could have been avoided.

Songs And Music

The script discretely demarcates the various phases of storytelling. All components of the story arc are strictly followed. The tone of the Akshay Kumar starrer swings from didactic and melodramatic to humorous at times. This has been the real quandary for R Balki. He makes an abortive attempt at equilibrating between the message and the medium.

Right from the time when the trailer dropped, it was made very clear that the movie is being marketed as a very commercial entity. The opening song “Aaj Se Teri” does well in establishing the lead characters. The second song “Saale Sapne” portrays the struggles of Lakshmikant. “Hu Ba Hu” also helps in moving the narrative forward.

The reaming two songs come as a disappointment.  Especially, the title song deserves a better number than the same overworn formula song of Mika Singh. “Sayani” which is centred on the marriage ceremony of Lakshmi’s sister does no more than giving the ladies an opportunity to thrust their pelvic.


All in all, Padman is a movie that was waiting to be made given the taboo subject it tackles. It gives us a peek into the dire condition of the rural women when it comes to sanitation. The 140-minute film throws light on the obscure genius of Arunachalam Muruganantham and the struggle which he had to go through to finally achieve his goal.

There are phases when Pad Man may seem like an extension of the government’s awareness campaign. Some scenes have also been stretched far too long. But the movie redeems itself through some good acting, unexpected humour and refreshing screenplay. “It was worth a onetime watch,” is what you tell yourself while leaving the theatre.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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