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Posted at: Feb 9, 2018, 5:19 PM; last updated: Feb 9, 2018, 5:26 PM (IST)MOVIE REVIEW: PADMAN

This man deserves a salute!

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Film: Padman

  • Director: R Balki
  • Cast: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor
This man deserves a salute!
A still from Padman

Nonika Singh

In one of the lighter moments in the film featuring Big B in a small cameo, Sonam Kapoor asks Akshay Kumar: Are you a fan of Amitabh Bachchan? He replies: “Who isn’t?” Well, well we don’t disagree with megastar Amitabh Bachchan’s phenomenal following. But after watching Padman you will become an ardent admirer of Akshay Kumar.  Whether he deserved the National award for Rustom or not, here is a National Award winning actor at play. 

Playing the titular part of Padman, based on social entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganantham, inventor of low-cost sanitary pad machine, what could have been an awkward portrayal is spot on. So bloody good he is, whether convincing his wife to use sanitary napkins or trying out one himself, he doesn’t let you wink even for a moment.

Akshay as Laxmiprasad tugs at your heartstrings as much as tells your mind; this is the way to go. Indeed, the film with its heart in the right place has a fine spirit too. Making a film on the taboo issue of menstrual cycle, in itself, is an arduous task. And to make it engaging is even more onerous.

Balki, however, deals with his subject, which of course, is as much the issue at hand as the character of Akshay Kumar, with a lightness of touch. At no point does the film appear heavy-handed. Not when Lakshmiprasad goes about making sanitary pads for his wife Gayatri (Radhika Apte), not when menstruation facts are padded in between and most delightful is the lecture he delivers after tasting success. Now, this address of his, flashes of which you must have seen in trailers, could easily have been a sermon but is all spice and sugar.

Of course, to create dramatic interest Balki doesn’t faithfully follow the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, certainly not to the T. Sure the man from Coimbatore in Tamil Naidu is a Padma Shri recipient and so huge is his success story that he figured in Times 100 Most Influential People list. But a film is a film and by director-writer Balki’s own admission, Sonam Kapoor’s character as Pari who becomes a trigger in Laxmi’s success story, is a pure figment of his imagination. However, she is not only relevant in the scheme of things Balki creates, not only provides romantic relief but also lifts the film which anyway is uplifting and heartwarming. Not merely for it packs the message of menstrual hygiene through the story of Padman but more significantly for it underlines the need to shun material wealth for higher pursuit. Can’t say if Muruganantham will agree with Balki’s remark, “After watching the film you should feel this is the life I would have liked to lead.” But the movie does make you feel; this is how all of us should lead our lives, with a social purpose at the core of it. 

Our only grouse with the film; wish Akshay’s character was called Arunachalam Muruganantham. If his inspiring character inspired a whole film, he certainly deserved more than a customary salute at the end. Nevertheless, the film deserves kudos for giving us a new definition of a hero. 

Arey building se high jump na maare, neeche se dialogue na maare, high speed mein naache gaaye naa… o ye hai mad mad mad mad mad mad mad pad man. Revel in the madness that all innovators are born with and the sincerity with which Akshay drives both his character and the film.  

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