First Watch · Movies · Popular

Pad Man: Bleeding Glory


F*** you Jauhar, Pad Man is here. There is something quite endearing about a man holding a sanitary napkin in his hand and bringing it to his woman in the nick of time. Women, please add this to your list of qualities for the perfect man’s CV: must source sanitary pad without qualms.

When that man is Akshay Kumar, who has rocked your boat as a young woman with songs like Dekha Teri, Chura Ke Dil and Tip Tip Barsa, you know your monthly cycle is in good hands. On celluloid people, just making it clear before I have protesters (or Ms Twinkle) on my tail.

Alright so this Pad Man is preachy but still better than hauling women centuries back and throwing us into fire. It’s practical, it’s efficient, it’s informative and delivers an important message with heart and song. And even a little drama thrown in with Sonam Kapoor and her city sensibility.

The story is woven well into the message and all players do their bit to make this women’s blood saga effective. Kudos to Twinkle Khanna for this initiative, who has now converted her brand further into Mrs Funnybones Movies. Take that, detractors. She will now write, and show. 🙂

Based on her own short story The Sanitary Man of Sacred Land from The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad, inspired by Arunachalam Muruganantham, the social activist from Tamil Nadu who introduced low-cost sanitary pads as an ode to his wife Shanthi.
R Balki and Akshay Kumar team up to deliver the message to spec. The winning achievement is that an A-list star held a sanitary napkin with bare hands, took a picture and the industry supported him in the Pad Man challenge: “Yes, that’s a pad in my hand & there’s nothing to be ashamed about… it’s natural! Period.” They were all out, united and proud helping promote the movie.

Akshay Kumar plays Arunachalam’s Lakshmi with consummate charm. He takes the gold in his New York speech with sheer earnest-ness. I did wonder about who else could have played his role. To his credit, he takes on Lakshmi’s spirit and you forget he is a star in some scenes.

Two spunky moments are memorable. First is when a blood-soaked Lakshmi hauls himself into the river, after a pad-testing experiment goes wrong. The second is when he settles into the serenity of green the first time trying to assemble a pad for his wife. It was heartening to watch him go through any effort to make her comfortable in period and to know it was kinda true.

The Pari angle adds colour to a documentary style narrative. Sonam Kapoor is Neeraja-like, as warm and understated as possible.

Radhika Apte is superb as Gayathri. Set up brilliantly as the antagonist, who is against her own husband as she is ashamed to be associated with a person who talks about periods and is interested in what happens between a woman’s legs. You feel her pain as she just doesn’t understand why health and menstrual hygiene must rate over tradition and blind faith.

So yes, as a woman or a man, I’d highly recommend watching this Pad story. A song is sweetly dedicated to a maturing girl who is banished to the corner, soon after celebrations are over. That’s pretty much how the cookie crumbles for most women in India.

The secret is finally out. We women bleed every month. And we have a super hero to prove it. 

It’s a 3.5 for me.

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