Noble Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai has expressed her solidarity with the message of menstrual hygiene in R Balki’s latest directorial PadMan. The director has confirmed that plans are afoot to the screening of the film especially for Malala, stating, “We are definitely showing it to her at the earliest, as soon as the logistics are worked out.”
“What can I say about Malala coming forward to support our film? We are blessed and honoured. It is voices like her that would carry our message in PadMan forward. Menstruation must not be swept under the carpet anymore. And we need powerful voices like Malala’s to carry the message forward,” said Balki.
For Balki, PadMan, which is about the man who invented the economical sanitary pad, is a different angle from how he usually works, initially reluctant to take it.
“Firstly, this is a story of a real-life character Arunachalam Muruganantham. The fact that he really exists initially daunted me,” he said. “I don’t like making films about people who exist; especially those who are alive, as this puts tremendous pressure on the film-maker to replicate the real person without any offence to anyone. I would rather go through life stories that I conceive 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 PadMan because the story of the man who thought of making the sanitary pad affordable to the middle class really inspired me. When Twinkle Khanna came to me with the idea, I was hooked.”
PadMan which starres Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor in lead roles released on February 9 to rave reviews and high box office numbers.
However, the film has not been released in Pakistan as yet and rumours of it being banned are adrift. While the censor board has maintained that the film is still under review, it is believed that the film has been banned due to its “taboo” subject. Several Pakistani artists including Armeena Khan, Hamza Ali Abbasi and Sanam Saeed have come forward and have objected to the supposed ban. Armeena has also been the subject of a lot of hate for being vocal in her opinions.
On this ban, the director of PadMan remarked, “I am disturbed by this prejudiced pre-judgement. I believe the Pakistan censor board didn’t even bother to see the film. They refused to have anything to do with it, arguing that such films threaten Islamic culture and history. Pray tell, how does a film about the health concerns of women harm any culture in the world? It is truly saddening that we still look at a normal, monthly physiological occurrence as something not to be spoken about.”
It is interesting to note that Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period drama Padmaavat was released in Pakistan, a few weeks back, despite the fact that the Muslim ruler in the film portrayed by Ranveer Singh was shown in bad light.