Published: 11th February 2018
Five lessons Padman teaches you, from breaking taboo to dreaming big, fearlessly
Padman isn't just another movie, it teaches you lessons to take back with you after the film and leaves you asking more questions about the social taboo around menstruation
Padman is one the few movies that gives away the story in the trailer itself: A humble, rural man from India on a quest to make life easier for the women in his life, particularly his wife.
As this forms the crux of the movie, there are layers that define how easy or difficult it is to bring a revolution in this country. Easy because our hero Lakshmikant Chauhan, played by Akshay Kumar, thinks that "Every problem is an opportunity to invent something new" and difficult because every change has to go through the "society test" that sometimes has the most illogical approach towards development.
While Lakshmi fights through all these barriers to finally achieve his aim i.e. to make menstrual hygiene taboo-free and affordable for his wife and millions like her, we take the opportunity to learn a few lessons:
No one can help you till you help yourself
As preachy as it sounds — it actually makes sense in the movie. The character, Lakshmikant Chauhan is an 8th pass, workshop worker in a small village in Madhya Pradesh. Even without any resources and even lesser exposure to the "progressive world", Lakshmi never fails to push his limits. From buying cotton to make the pads to working at a professor's house to gain "knowledge" about making a pad, he didn't even shy away from using a pad at one point. And we all can agree, in the end, he nailed it.
Big things start small
The idea of making pads originated in him as his concern for his timid and impressively stubborn wife (played by Radhika Apte) who would refuse to buy pads to save money. Lakshmi's efforts to find cheap pads started with an everyday home argument and ended with him giving a speech at the United Nations that explained his journey. Everything in between was a well-articulated step-by-step process that brought him closer to his goals.
We still need an "Amitabh Bachchan" to justify efforts
"How can a man talk about sanitary napkins? How can he make pads? Is he a pervert? Is he possessed by a ghost?" These are only a few questions that were pounced upon Lakshmi when he was just minding his business and trying to make a zero-cost pad for his wife. Thankfully, for him, he managed to bag an award that was followed by Amitabh Bachchan's speech and that changed everything. So much so, that nobody even bothered to find out what he was awarded for. But the moment the people who welcomed him with garlands knew it was for a pad, Lakshmi's brief victory was considered a taboo again.
The ripple effect: The Padman Challenge
Can you imagine that the Padman Challenge that has taken over social media is courtesy of an "aam admi" from Tamil Nadu? His thoughts accelerated into action and it has left the celebrities signing the pads. Now, that's a major leap.
Superstitions can be really haunting
When Lakshmi was figuring out how to convince his wife to use the pads, he joked to himself. "It would have been great if I was a godman, at least these women would have listened to me," he said. While women are ready to sleep with godmen and actually commit adultery, they are not ready to accept hygiene for their own good. Really?