There are very few Bollywood movies released to date that’ve been about important issues faced by women. Padman (2018) is a movie about menstruation and its toxic stigma especially in rural communities. Based off a true story, Padman is a movie which focuses on Lakshmikant Chauhan (Akshay Kumar), a man who starts his own sanitary pad business after seeing the unhealthy way in which his own wife Gayatri (Radhika Apte), deals with her period (by using dirty pieces of cloth), selling them for cheaper prices as well as employing poorer women to work and make an income. It’s an inspiring story of a man who gives up everything to make menstruation products more affordable and therefore accessible. He loses everything in the process, his wife, his family, his friends, but eventually succeeds in his business internationally and wins them all back.
In a time where Bollywood is thriving off nepotism, cheesy remixes, and bad dialogue, Padman was refreshingly honest about an important issue. It wasn’t afraid to show real pads, real blood, and the real struggle which women who lack money and resources face. Lakshmikant himself went above and beyond any male of his time, or indeed our time, by testing pads on himself by strapping period simulators inside his own underwear.
Sure Padman had its own issues as a movie, with its one sided portrayal of rural women as helpless and uneducated, and its inaccurate statistics, but in a time where tampon tax still exists, the movie was a huge step in the right direction. It opened up conversation on an issue which is usually hushed up, guest starred actors as big as Amitabh Bachchan and Sonam Kapoor to show their support, and overall truly did empower its audience and inspire us to speak out.