Special Screening Of PadMan for Malala Yousafzai

Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai  expressed her solidarity with the message of menstrual hygiene in R Balki’s PadMan. Now that Twinkle  Khanna(who’s a producer on  the project) has met Malala in London, plans are afoot to show the film to the youngest Nobel laureate.

Says R Balki, “What can I say about Malala coming forward  to support our film? We are blessed and  honoured. It is voices like her which would carry our message  in PadMan forward. Menstruation  must not be  swept under  the carpet any  more.And  we need powerful voices  like Malala’s to carry the message forward.”

Balki reveals plans of showing PadMan to  Malala. “We are definitely showing it to her at the earliest, as soon as  the logistics are worked out.”

For Balki, Pad Man about the man who invented the economical sanitary pad is a leap into the unknown that he was initially reluctant to take.  “Firstly, this is a  story of a real-life character Arunachalam Muruganantham. The fact that he really exists initially daunted. I don’t like making films about  people  who exist specially those who are alive, as this puts a tremendous pressure on the filmmaker to replicate the real person without offence to anyone, I would rather go into lives that I conceive specially for cinema rather than  a life that pre-exists.”

But then something made Balki change his mind. “I decided to make an exception this time. I decided to  do Pad Man because the story of the man who thought of  making the sanitary pad affordable to the middleclass really inspired me. When Twinkle Khanna(Mrs Akshay kumar) came to  me with the idea,I was hooked. For too long we’ve swept sensitive issues such  as women’s hygiene  and sanitary pads under the carpet, out of the range  of  supposedly civil  conversation. If  a film like Pad Man opens up a dialogue,  persuades people to talk about the imperatives   of  sanitary pads, fine. However I don’t feel  the message is more important than entertainment in any film.

​I am glad  audiences are enjoying the  film and taking the  message home.​

”Balki believes that cinema should first and foremost cinema . “Earlier entertainment-oriented cinema  was invariably divorced  from information-based art. In recent time we’ve seen a merger  of entertainment and information in cinema. Cinema that informs is  no longer considered  boring. Audiences are agreeable to cinema that informs as long as it is entertaining. I  feel we’ve achieved that marriage  of entertainment and information in Pad Man.”

That a  male actor of Akshay Kumar’s clout speaks about sanitary napkin makes the issue all the more relevant.

Says  Balki, “Akshay’s voice is far-reaching. His message goes to the most distant corners  of  the world. We are hopeful  that Pad Man will resonate with the audience. And that  it would make a difference in the  issue of gender sensitization in our country. Not that we are looking at a sudden aggressive shift in the way men address the question of menstruation .But women should not speak about it in a whisper  .”

Not that Balki want​ed​ the menstruation and sanitary pads to be the nation’s talkpoint.  “What I’d like is a level of sensitivity in dealing with  these issues. When the pharmacist gives a woman a packet of pads wrapped in  a newspaper, he is not  so  much insensitive  to the issue as he is sensitive towards what he feels are subjects  that women would rather not talk about.We need to  stop addressing certain topics in embarrassed apologetic tones.”

Balki  is  thrilled to direct Akshay Kumar for  the first time. “He brings so much to the film without seeming to. He is a no-fuss actor whose voice carries very far.”

Balki’s favourite Amitabh Bachchan also appears  in Pad Man. “He has been a  part  of  all my films so far. He makes an  important appearance in Pad Man.I don’t think I can do a film where  Mr Bachchan  is  not a part.”

How does Balki rate Pad Man in  his oeuvre? “Are you kidding? I don’t remember a single  frame  of any of my films. Once I am done with them , I’m out. Maybe I should revisit my films to be able to answer  your question.”

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