So I finally managed to watch Padman!

Very few films would get a 5/5 from me, this one does.

There is fictionalisation of the actual story, which will be there if the film has to be a commercial success; but hats off to the genius actual Pad Man Arunachalam Muruganandam, to R. Balki for making a film on this subject and to Akshay Kumar for acting in it and producing it too, ably supported by Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor.

In our country (as in many around the world, I’m sure), the thing ignored the most probably is women’s health, mostly because discussion about anything related to it is considered a taboo; and to break down these religious and social barriers and to get women to use something for their own hygiene by spending money on it is an even more daunting task! Cannot even begin to imagine what all Mr. Arunachalam Muruganandam would’ve had to brave to create awareness about something so basic that half of the world’s population faces! I’m yet to read his actual story, but even if half the things shown in the film are true (and the others not shown could be uglier, much uglier than portrayed in a film), then one cannot even begin to imagine the difficulties he would’ve faced to get people to talk about this and accept it as a problem.

I think the most important thing that the film has achieved is to get people to talk about something which was conveniently shoved under the carpet till now. Women don’t need special treatment during “those 5 days “. Neither do they deserve to be ostracised. They just need a little empathy, a few basic hygienic amenities and dignity rather than being put on a pedestal because “she’s a woman now”.

I just hope that the momentum that this gathered when the film was about to be released does not lose steam. A radio channel claimed to have collected some 18,000 odd pads to be distributed among those women who cannot afford them. Good initiative! Do they plan to continue with it every month? What is the use otherwise? Hope Mr. Muruganandam’s efforts do spread widely to the masses.

Akshay Kumar plays the role of the simple village welder and repairman with as much elan as he plays a special agent trained in the martial arts! This is one actor who has evolved beyond imagination! From the Khiladi of the 90s’ to the social and civic awareness ambassador of today! The speech in “Linglish” does touch a chord.

Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor in completely deglamorised roles! Who would’ve thought? Radhika Apte had done a similarly deglamorised role in “Manjhi – The Mountain Man”, she proves again here that she is so very capable of giving a character her 100 percent.

Saawariya, Ranjhana, Aisha to Neeraja to Padman – Sonam Kapoor does have her own interesting trajectory. I don’t quite agree with people who say she can’t act. I would say she is a director’s actor. The director has to decide how to get the best out of her. And R.Balki did exactly that! Mr. Bachchan’s mandatory cameo is, as usual, impressive. That man can do anything with elan!

Cinematography: Breathtaking! Wide, sweeping shots of the Malwa – Mandu, Maheshwar and the Narmada! The ghats, the rural houses, the unhurried pace of life in the countryside captured beautifully!

A visionary who made an innovation for a social cause and a visionary who made a film to showcase this real-life visionary! May the tribe increase!