Akshay Kumar delayed the release of Pad Man to give a solo release to Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmaavat. Now, two weeks later, the film has finally opened in theatres. The socio-drama directed by R Balki speaks up against the taboo around menstrual hygiene in India. It received immense supoort on social media after #PadManChallenge went viral and people from all sections of the society posted pictures with a sanitary pad in their hands. We watched the movie at a special screening and let us tell you that the viral social media campaign is only the beginning of it. Here is our review of the film.
What's it about
Sanitary napkins and menstruation aren't the most likely subjects to make a full-length feature film. But R Balki's Pad Man does the unthinkable and weaves a real-life inspired story that holds your attention for most of its screen time. Laxmi (Akshay Kumar) is a newly married man, who is unable to understand as to why his wife (Radhika Apte) has to sleep outside their bedroom for five days every month. When the menstrual conversation between husband and wife begins, things get awkward for them both. As a husband, he is unable to deal with the fact that his wife has to risk her life by wearing a dirty cloth during those days to avoid staining her clothes. The film deals with Laxmi's constant struggle of convincing his wife and his entire village that using sanitary pads is not a taboo or something that should be considered an offence. Later in the film, Sonam Kapoor steps in as the catalyst in the story and helps Laxmi achieve his dreams.
Both Balki and Akshay ensure that the film, despite its serious subject, never becomes tedious or boring for its audience. The writing and conception of every scene has a lot of thought put into it. Especially the scenes that involve talk about periods and pads, have been written with the right kind of sensitivity. Also any comparisons to Toilet - Ek Prem Katha are killed early on. Pad Man is quite a different story with a totally different subject and narrative. The biggest plus point of the film is its emotional connect with the central character of Laxmi. You end up not only empathising with him but also stay invested in his story till the very end. Akshay does a fantastic job of making Laxmi extremely relatable. His big speech scene in the climax showcases his growth and immense maturity as an actor. Radhika Apte deserves a special mention for playing Gayatri so beautifully. Right from her walk of shame during those five days to her anger and outburst on her husband is captured with finesse by this underrated actor. Radhika's performance makes the film special and her scenes with Akshay are a definitely the highlight.
As Pad Man nears its climax, it gets a bit slow and dreary. A ritual song ushering a girl into her youth seemed unnecessary.The entire process of making a pad, which was an important moment in the film, felt a bit stretched.
What to do
Pad Man deserves a special mention simply because it got made. A subject that's hushed up even in urban India got a mainstream treatment by a popular actor-director team. And that itself is a reason why a film like this deserves extra attention.
4.0 out of 5
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