This Sunday, I watched the much awaited and equally hushed movie “Padman”. I was happy that a movie has finally been released on a topic which directly affects half of the society. But, the reality hit me as soon as I entered the theatre.
Almost one-third of the theatre was empty. Certain dialogues in this movie on menstruation were hilarious, but could not muster much laughter from the audience. Even those who laughed did it in suppressed voices, except a few, like my friend, who doesn’t care about such nonsensical stigmas (Yes! She is awesome!). Later I found out that this was the worst performing release of Akshay Kumar in the last three years.
The protagonist in the movie too had to face similar stigmas, for which he had to sacrifice much of his personal and professional life. All of this can be summed up in one line: we, as a society, are still not ready to give women their much deserved equal rights, let alone discuss them. And guys, that is a huge failure on our part as men.
Gayatri, the wife in the movie, asks him not to get into the affairs of women and leave the matter alone. She also says that she is ashamed of even talking about it with her own husband. And that is nothing new. Especially in rural areas, even now, women have to sleep outside during menstruation and are not to be touched. That’s how the society has mandated it to be.
So, let’s put it very firmly: menstruation is not a disease. Though its effects can be much worse than most diseases. And the solution, too, is dramatically simple: better sanitation facilities. The 2011 Census reveals that only 25.4% households in rural India have bathrooms. For me, that’s scary as hell.
Therefore, as a society, we have to make sure that in this ‘five-day test match’ that is played every month; women are the winners every time. And if you want to know where and how to start, you can start by just watching the movie. And also by taking your parents, brothers, sisters, uncle, aunties, etc with you to watch it. Even starting a discussion on this taboo topic can bring a lot of changes in the mindset of the people. And the best forum to talk about menstruation is not some big public stage, but the drawing room of your home, with all your family members.
We are all “Padman”!