‘Padman’ movie review By DIVYA SOLGAMA
Whenever any filmmaker tries to venture into the subjects dealing with tabooed themes, their films are either well received or badly opposed. The audience either love to see the unseen or are afraid to face the daring facts. The themes keep changing as per the time and the era. Films dealing with the subject related to widow remarriage, untouchables, extramarital affairs, divorce drama, fertility issues have gradually shifted to films dealing with sex, periods, homosexuality, inter-caste marriage, domestic violence and many such issues. While most of these films were widely opposed, there were few which were accepted with open arms. The latest to join this niche list is ‘Padman’, which deals with the theme of female menstrual issues. Thanks to the promos and brilliant marketing strategy, this movie has already marked itself on a positive note. Thus, let’s find out whether ‘Padman’ will manage to be a eye opener film or might end up being a preachy drama.
‘Padman’ is a story of a simple villager Laxmi (Akshay Kumar), who immensely loves his wife Gayatri (Radhika Apte). One day Laxmi discovers that Gayatri is using soiled cloth in her menstrual days, which could lead to any dreadful illness. Laxmi buys a sanitary napkin pack but Gayatri refuses to use it as it extremely expensive. This instigates Laxmi to make a home made sanitary napkin. Sadly, it fails to work on Gayatri. Laxmi continues his efforts and in order to achieve it seeks help from other females in his village including his own sisters. Sadly, none of them understands Laxmi’s intentions and term him as a pervert. These humiliations motivates Laxmi to fulfil his dream of making a low-cost sanitary pad and what happens next is what the entire film is all about.
Screenplay & Technical Details:
The story is based on a short story in Twinkle Khanna‘s book ’The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad’ and is inspired by the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social activist from Tamil Nadu. There have been few documentaries based on this theme, along with Sharib Hashmi’s film ‘Phullu’ which loosely narrates its tale on the same lines. A film named ‘I-Pad’, still awaits to see the daylight, but ‘Padman’ is the first official adaptation based on the real life activist. ‘Padman’ does not waste any time in establishing the plot and right from the initial scenes focuses only on its theme. Akshay’s visit to chemist shop to buy sanitary napkins followed by him trying to convince his sister to use it followed by Akshay using the self made pads on himself and few such scenes are among the best in the first half of the film. The middle portions in the first half drag for a while along with repetitive factor thanks to the over melodramatic display by the character of Radhika Apte. The making of sanitary pad is shown in quite convenient manner without any hardship. The stigma part is melodramatic and should have been presented in subtle manner. Luckily, the second half of the film is much better than the first half of the film. The screenplay in second half is interesting as well as engaging. Akshay trying to learn about sanitary napkins followed by making alternate machines, Akshay helping Sonam, Sonam convincing Akshay to patent his invention, the entire process of growing and few more such scenes keeps you intrigued in the film. Amitabh Bachchan’s brilliant cameo scene and Akshay’s finale speech are inspiring as well as heartfelt. One does wish that the makers should have added the Hindi subtitles in Akshay’s speech in order to get the mass appeal. There are few scenes where the screenplay does go on the preachy mode, but are over shadowed by other scenes. The dialogues are simple but at times applaud worthy, especially by Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar. The cinematography is decent and goes well with the flow of the film.
The music is strictly average with ‘Aaj Se Teri’ and ‘Saare Sapne’ being the best songs in terms of the audio as well as the video presentation. ‘Sayaani’ and ‘Hu Ba Hu’ could have been avoided. ‘Padman’ goes with the feel of the film.
Director R. Balki loves to explore into the unseen territories and at most of the times pass out with flying colors. In case of ‘Padman’, the challenge was far more as it deals with a taboo subject and R. Balki narrates it with total ease. He keeps the entertainment factor intact and presents the film with total conviction. There is not even a single point in the film which might make anyone uncomfortable. It’s just that the melodramatic presentation in initial part fails to gel with today’s times. Also, at some point one does get bit bored due to the repetitive scenes which also seems preachy at times. The movie is a decent well made film with right amount of heart in it. It’s just that it fails to achieve the mind blowing factor.
Akshay Kumar does his part with total grace and at times keeps you engaged due to his cinematic experiences. The finale speech will be among his best scenes from his entire career. Radhika Apte slides easily inside the skin of her character. Sadly, her accent and melodramatic expressions dilutes the intensity of her character. Sonam Kapoor is refreshing in the movie. Her presence adds freshness to the film and one will love her justification for her feelings in the finale scene. Amitabh Bachchan’s cameo is mind blowing. His speech is totally inspiring and makes you feel proud.
So on an overall basis, ‘Padman’ manages to soak the taboo factor related to female menstrual hygiene issues. It had high potential to become a path-breaking film with outstanding factor but settles down as a inceptor of such theme and that too in a decent manner.
Rating – 3.5/5