Friday, February 09, 2018

Review: PADMAN

1st Half Is Painful As Periods
2nd Half Thankfully Is Absorbing

2.5 stars

Mini Review:

This is a dramatised biopic of India’s sanitary ‘Pad’ man,
who in his quest for making cheaper sanitary napkins
for his wife, suffered socially, was ostracised and then
ultimately acknowledged for his innovation. Akshay Kumar
does a fabulous job as small town inventor but the story
comes together only in the second half with the arrival of
Sonam Kapoor who guides him to greatness. If you can
endure the slow, unmoving first half, this film is socially

Main Review:

Last year you watched ‘Phullu’ a film made rather shoddily on
the same subject, and one has learnt that there is another film
in the works about the same Pad man. How does this film fare?

Akshay Kumar plays Laxmikant Chauhan, who is a fabricator,
a small time inventor. His family has four women (two sisters, a
mother and a wife). His saucer-eyed wife is Radhika Apte, the
perfect small town woman, surprised and embarrassed at her
husband’s display of affection.  His distress at discovering that his
wife has to endure the unhygienic use of cloth during menstruation
is so great he wants her to use sanitary pads. But the cost is
prohibitive and the stigma attached to ‘women’s problems’ is great.
So he attempts something that inventors will. He attempts to make
a ‘pad’ at home. His logic is, it would be cheaper, and his wife
won’t have to endure the possibility of infection (and maybe
death) with the use of cloth.

It just ‘looks wrong’ according to his wife. And the audience, then
begins to endure a hopelessly weepy wife who is like, ‘Why are
you interested in what’s happening between a woman’s legs’. He
is unable to explain his fears, and he attempts to get his sister,
married out of town, to try his home-made sanitary pad, and a
neighborhood girl. Socially, in a small town, these actions are not
just odd, but a horrendous interference in ‘women’s matters’.

Thankfully as he explains later, every failure just made him
doggedly determined to succeed. The film’s second half actually
begins to tell the story, which is very interesting. His efforts at
trying to understand why a sanitary napkin costs so much are
really endearing. Then arrives Pari, Sonam Kapoor, who
inadvertently is his first customer after he is trying out his
fabricated machine. Pari figures out what is wrong with his sales
approach and his ‘low cost pad’ business takes off.

Sonam Kapoor just shines in the small role and is such a stark
contrast to his weepy wife, that you begin to notice Akshay Kumar
as a hero not just as an eccentric chap. Pari is played with charm
and grace you are forced to look at this young actor with fresh
eyes. You want to reach out and hug her after she tells Akshay
what she does on the flight. That is so real, it matches the
brilliant speech Akshay gives at the United Nations (a tad
overdone, I thought, but needed, for a socially relevant film).
The romance is unexpected and you wish characters had
broken tradition and the hero had chosen a beautiful, smart
woman instead of going back to his silly, weepy, wife who
abandons him.

The film is socially relevant so critics will be careful when offering
critique. And even though it has a stellar star cast, this film could
go straight to TV to actually reach rural women. But the second
half is worth the two and a half stars it has earned.

P.S. Two movies on sanitary pads are enough. How new or 

different is the third film going to be? Please, no more.

(This review, sans the post script, appears on )

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