“It saddens me to learn that our wives, daughters, mothers and sisters have lived in shame for all these centuries”: Akshay Kumar

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Actor Akshay Kumar at the song launch of his upcoming film “PadMan” in Mumbai on Jan 12, 2018. (Photo: IANS)

After “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha” Akshay Kumar is back with another film focused on women’s health, “Padman” is an upcoming film about menstrual hygiene in the rural areas of India.

Based on the true story of Padmashri Arunachalam Muruganatham, the man who revolutionized the manufacturing of a low cost sanitary napkin in India, “Padman” is about Lakshmi, a newly married man who is shocked to see his wife use an unhygienic cloth during her periods as she is unable to afford a branded pad.

So he decides to make a sanitary pad himself, which leads him to face much embarrassment as his wife leaves him and he is banished from his village.

However, Lakshmi doesn’t give up and eventually creates a revolution by producing these low cost sanitary napkins, spreading the awareness of menstrual hygiene in India while becoming famous around the world.

Here are a few excerpts from an email interview that News India Times had with Kumar:

Q: What made you want to do a film about such a taboo subject in India, especially in the rural areas?

A: Because with power comes great responsibility, I want to not only entertain people, but I want to help create the change that’s needed in our country. I have a platform, now I want to do good with it, I don’t want to be just another famous actor who died of old age, I want to be someone who made a difference and left a mark in people’s hearts.

Q: For “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha” you said “my blood boils for their (women) health, safety and comfort,” so would you consider this film as a second part or an addition to “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha”?

A: Well not exactly. Both films are different. It saddens me to learn that our wives, daughters, mothers and sisters have lived in shame for all these centuries because of such an important biological occurrence. They’ve been made to feel inferior and they’ve been ostracized from families and societies, it’s even cost them their lives. These issues are close to my heart, because after all my years, even I’m only just becoming educated enough about the many crisis’ countries suffer with every day of our lives and I myself am ashamed of how little I knew.

I wish I had known since childhood, it would have made me an even more understanding son, brother and husband if I had known or been able to share with the women in my home the menstrual difficulties they face. But because it’s kept so quiet through pressures of society and backward thinking, it’s never a topic of discussion.

Q: How did Arunachalam Muruganatham, whose character you are playing, inspire you?

A: Well he inspired me enough to make a film on him. Arunachalam Muruganantham has not only got a cracking personality himself, but his story is just so intriguing, you can listen to his thoughts all day, his own one liners are clap-worthy, his opinions and views of seeing things a certain way is so pure and rare. For me he really is a real life Hero.

Q: How does it feel that your wife, Twinkle Khanna, is producing this film?

A: I’m extremely happy and proud of her as I know just how invested she’s been in this film and subject from the word go. Twinkle is my SuperWoman – she is the bravest, most independent woman I’ve ever known, standing only for what is right. She lives for her morals, she fights for equality and loves purely from her heart, but only listens to her brain – and she has always been this way.

Q: From the trailer, we can tell that Radhika Apte plays your wife in the film, but what character is Sonam Kapoor portraying in the film?

A: Sonam is the wings to mad superhero, Pad Man’s pad. She is the one who helps take the voice of an uneducated Pad Man to the world and inspire him to take forward his dreams. She is not the woman behind Pad Man she is the woman who leads Pad Man in the right direction. She teaches him that the world needs his simple humble non-profitable idea and expertise more than he needs the World.

Q: “Pad Man” is coming out at around that same time as the most awaited film “Padmaavat,” so do you think that may affect the impact “Pad Man” will have on the audience

A: It’s a shame any film has to clash, for every movie deserves its magic to be enjoyed, not split into two. Having said that, it’s not the first time something like this has happened. Long weekend dates are always desired and eyed by a lot of film makers and with the number of films being churned out; scenarios like these are bound to happen. As for both the films, well they couldn’t be more different even if we tried, while one is based on history and all that was, the other talks about future and all that could be. I wish them all the best as they have already been through a lot. I sincerely hope both the films do well.

Directed by R. Balki, “Padman” is set to release on Feb. 9.

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