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PadMan: Menstrual hygiene is good, but Akshay Kumar’s social entrepreneurship is the key idea

Akshay Kumar’s superstardom is the perfect vehicle to deliver dollops of information on hygiene and gender sensitisation, and it has been done with earnestness. However, this isn’t the most striking idea in the film.

bollywood Updated: Feb 11, 2018 09:49 IST
Rohit Vats
Rohit Vats
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Akshay Kumar,PadMan,R Balki
PadMan is based on a real story.

Akshay Kumar’s PadMan has released now, and it’s making all the right noises. Unlike Toilet – Ek Prem Katha, this one is not trying to further any agenda that mirrors that of the government. It’s direct in approach and has a lot to offer including entertainment.

Akshay Kumar’s superstardom is the perfect vehicle to deliver dollops of information on menstrual hygiene and gender sensitisation, and it has been done with earnestness. However, this isn’t the only striking idea in the film.

We knew what PadMan is going to talk about a taboo subject and would probably influence a discussion. And that is what it did -- on social media and otherwise.

However, what truly surprised me is the way Akshay Kumar’s character has been written. He is not shown as a village simpleton with only good intentions. He is a smart guy with a definitive understanding of social behaviour. He understands the nuances of social entrepreneurship and implements them. He is smart enough to put on a show in front of TV cameras or, for that matter, the UN audiences.

Did I tell you that this piece may have some spoilers? Not until now, I guess. Never mind, they aren’t big enough to spoil your show.

In one of the scenes in the film, Akshay Kujmar’s Lakshmi Chouhan is preparing to face a TV news crew and wearing a freshly ironed shirt. Suddenly, he rubs his shirt against a well-oiled machine, getting it dirty in the process. Sonam Kapoor asks him the reason and he replies, “Unko lagna chahiye na main kaam karta hoon (They should know I work).”

To this, Sonam Kapoor rightly responds, “Tu toh smart businessman hai,” or something to a similar effect.

This is where PadMan scores over many other socially-oriented films. It tries to provide a solution. Lakshmi wants to make cheaper sanitary pads, but also wants to create jobs. For that, he needs to present himself in a particular way and that’s what he tries to do. It’s not manipulation, but adapting as per the situation.

Understanding the fact that social entrepreneurship can be the solution to many pressing problems is the real strength of PadMan. Balki has packaged the idea just right. I won’t be surprised if it helps upcoming entrepreneurs in attaching a philosophy to their business or invention.

Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/@nawabjha

First Published: Feb 10, 2018 09:32 IST