PadMan movie review: The taboo topic of women’s menstrual cycle has never been talked about openly. Until now! And it took the calibre of ‘Khiladi’ Akshay Kumar to, not just portray the topic sensitively, but present it in a manner that will have a commercial spin-off – a successful one at that! That too without generating a controversy. Why? Because, the story is captivating and the performances by the actors are magical indeed. Not just the actors, director R Balki has put together all the ingredients together to ensure viewers come away after watching the movie with a light, feelgood mood.
Being the first ever film to deal with a topic as sensitive as this, R Balki made sure he did not over sensitize it and maintained a certain subtlety to explain the plight of women, especially in the villages. While health aspect is given primacy, the ‘shame’ issue is tackled well to ensure the scenes do not become cringe-worthy. This audacious film dares to show the existent societal problem around the menstrual cycle and how conveniently men tend to shun, ignore or worse, snub it.
The story goes like this: After marrying Gayatri (Radhika Apte), Lakshmikanth Chauhan (Akshay Kumar) is introduced to a whole new world of menstruation and realises that his wife has put herself in the way of harm by reusing dirty linen during ‘that time of the month’. That this is a serious health hazard gets highlighted and the consequences and alternatives explained in a proper manner. As the movie progresses, there is not even one scene that anyone will feel the need to look away from the screen. And that is where genius really comes forth.
Restless and apprehensive, Lakshmi asks his wife to ditch the cloth and instead opt for sanitary pads. Given their humble background, sanitary pads are no less than a luxury for his wife and she is very reluctant to use them. But his obsession to find a solution for this serious problem leads Lakshmikanth to set out on a journey to innovate and provide access to economically viable disposable pads. What happens next is life changing indeed and no, not for the better. Lakshmi is subjected to humiliation for discussing a ‘ladies problem’ with so much ease openly in the public. But the rows do not restrain Lakshmi from undertaking this journey. However, even as he is dubbed a madman, Lakshmi’s journey from madman to PadMan begins in earnest.
This can be deemed as Akshay Kumar’s best performance till date. You may have seen him in his popular avatar a number of times, but in PadMan, Akshay brings out a versatility in his act that no one would have assumed was there. And more than that, he is able to make the delivery of dialogues in his characteristic old style that everyone loves him for. The man manages to pump in certain humility and is just bang on as Lakshmikanth. Radhika Apte on her part has been provided a more melodramatic role in the film and not that of a headstrong women that she is more used to. She is seen playing a role which is very different from what she has done before and she manages to ace it.
Sonam Kapoor comes as a surprise package though. A headstrong woman, who becomes a life changer for the protagonist, Sonam gets the second half going. But the chemistry between Akshay and Sonam has been marred by the romantic angle which could have been dispensed with. The platonic factor in their relationship could have added much more meaning to their relationship.
R Balki through certain scenes also showcases instances of blind faith and superstition and sets interesting comparisons. PadMan is much more than an underdog’s story which is just not limited to his transformation from rags to riches. Balki makes sure that the film is not a monotonous 2 hour 30 minute of lectures and carefully pumps in subtle humour. He tactfully introduces Sonam Kapoor (Pari) in the film as the fairy godmother in his life and her character is written out well.
Amit Trivedi’s music has a very fresh appeal and generates emotion aplenty to go along with the scenes. ‘Aaj Se Teri’ is a feel-good number and is a relatable song. ‘Hu Ba Hu’ sung by Trivedi himself will get you going, and the title track by Mika Singh is foot-tapping and at the same time inspiring.
This film deserves a watch, not because it is the first time such a film has been showcased but its very audacious move to deal with such a topic so sensitively yet putting out what must be shown without shying away.