Run Time: 2 Hours 17 Minutes
Written and Directed by R Balki
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor, Radhika Apte, and Amitabh Bachchan.
NN Rating: 3.5*
The film, set up in 2001, wastes no time in coming to the topic.
Lakshmi Prasad (Akshay Kumar) gets married to Gayatri (Radhika Apte) and is shocked to learn that his beloved wife is using, or rather forced to use a simple piece of cloth during her menstrual cycle.
Lakshmi is worried and rightly so because he knows that the piece of cloth will do more harm than any good to his wife’s health. Branded sanitary pads are too expensive so he takes it upon himself to design, devise, and create a low-cost sanitary pad for Gayatri and other women.
He is out on a mission which turns into a madness of sorts even though the very mention of a sanitary pad or even the menstrual cycle is a Big NO-NO, a taboo.
He tries, fails, tries again, fails, again he tries and again he fails. He is detested and ostracised by the society and even his own mother. His in-laws take Gayatri back, leaving behind a heartbroken but an even more determined Lakshmi who works day and night, approaches experts from different fields, right from students of a medical college to an engineering professor but, fails again.
He bumps into Rhea (Sonam Kapoor) who, as luck would have it is his first customer since he set up his own sanitary pad making unit after taking a loan. Rhea’s dad helps Lakshmi to give a demonstration of his machine at IIT Delhi.
What follows is the journey from a small town in Madhya Pradesh to Delhi to United Nations Headquarters NYC to being awarded the Padma Shri and being celebrated by the very people who had shunned him years back.
Inspired by the real-life story of Arunachalam Muruganantham, Pad Man is a genuine, brutal effort in addressing the ‘inviolable’ issue of women’s health viz. menstruation. R Balki, who has directed Cheeni Kum and Paa, has handled the subject with a deft touch not letting the movie go over the top.
Akshay has yet again proven he can convincingly portray the common man with subtle nuances. Radhika Apte is honest to her character of an orthodox small-town Indian woman while Sonam Kapoor fits in well as Delhi based aspiring CEO.
The soundtrack is not boring, rather complements the story and overall, the message has been conveyed albeit with certain cinematic liberties.