Human beings have a tendency to make simple things complex. The entire taboo around menstruation is its ripe example. It’s a completely natural part of women’s body. But the shame associated with regards to even talking about it is highly shocking. A lot of people have tried their best to make people understand about this issue but the impact has been limited. Now, Akshay Kumar takes up the issue in his new film Pad Man. The film is already a winner prior to its release. After all, the way it has ignited discussions about periods is huge and is growing day by day. And thankfully, the film goes beyond expectations and arguably emerges as Akshay Kumar’s most accomplished work!
The story of the movie: Lakshmi Chauhan (Akshay Kumar) resides in the small town of Maheshwar with his wife Gayatri (Radhika Apte), two sisters and his mother. One day he realizes how Gayatri is using dirty cloth during her periods. He buys sanitary pads for her but Gayatri asks him not to do so as it’s quite expensive. Lakshmi has always been an innovator who likes to think out of the box. He decides to make sanitary pads himself. However, in order to do so, he is ridiculed, criticized and a lot more. But Lakshmi doesn’t give up. He gets determined to learn how he can make low-cost sanitary napkins at any cost.
Pad Man wastes no time and beautifully introduces the character and setting during the opening credits and the song ‘Aaj Se Meri’. Immediately after the song, the film comes to the core issue. It’s interesting and even amusing to see Lakshmi’s trial and error methods in trying to make a sanitary pad, that’s as good as the expensive one. However, soon, the film gets serious as Laskhmi’s actions lead to serious repercussions. One of the most impactful scenes out here is during the pre-interval, when Lakshmi’s experiment on himself goes horribly awry. The drama and madness continue very well in the second half as well. It gets a bit fast in the initial five minutes of second half but no complaints. But from here, the film gets better. It’s great to see Lakshmi finally managing to make the ideal sanitary pad, aided by Pari (Sonam Kapoor). The execution is such that one gets totally sucked into his life. Hence, one can’t help but get moved by all the challenges that he faces. Also, one’s eyes are sure to get moist when he starts getting respect from the society for his amazing innovation. The speech at the United Nations is outstanding to say the least. Never ever has it happened in a Hindi film that a character has given such a lengthy, heartfelt, moving speech in broken English!
Talking of performances, one can surely call Pad Man as the best work of Akshay Kumar. The actor refuses to remain stagnant and is trying his best to outdo his previous performances. With Pad Man, he gets to play a lovely character and he gets into the skin of his character. One can feel the pain that he goes through as his very own people get ashamed of him. And for what? For doing something noble! Akshay gets the ‘sur’ of his character just right and thereby takes the film to another level! Radhika Apte is a complete natural as expected. She plays the part of a wife, torn between love for his ‘eccentric’ hubby and the norms of the society, very well. It’s great to see her in such a big Hindi film. She deserves it! Sonam Kapoor has a late entry and initially, she doesn’t impress much. But after a point, her endearing character adds a lot of weight to the narrative. A fine performance! The film is incomplete without the work of the supporting cast but sadly most names are not available. The actors playing the meat seller, the chemist, the doctor in Maheshwar, the medical student, the professor, the professor’s kid, Pari’s friend, Pari’s father, Laskhmi’s first ever employee, the girl who enters puberty etc all have done a very fine job. Amitabh Bachchan’s cameo is lovely.
Amit Trivedi’s music is fine. Aaj Se Teri is the best song of the lot and easily one of the best tracks in recent times. Sayaani is a well conceptualized track and shot well. The Pad Man Song is exhilarating while Hu Ba Hu makes minimal impact. Background score is not too loud but elevates impact in some scenes. Rupin Suchak’s production design is authentic and very real. The film is shot majorly in the beautiful Maheshwar and its tiny descending and ascending roads and river bank is very well utilized. And watch out for Lakshmi’s house in the film – it’s so unusual and yet so real. It gives a nice touch. P C Sreeram’s cinematography is flawless as always. The celebrated cinematographer, in his previous film Ki & Ka, had tried some unusual kind of cinematography but in Pad Man, he keeps it simple. Chandan Arora’s editing is slick. It’s first at few places but doesn’t make it seem awkward. Twinkle Khanna and co-writer Swanand Kirkire’s story is the need of the hour. But merely having a good concept in hand isn’t enough. It has to be scripted well and here, both come out with flying colours. The dialogues are another highlight of the film. It’s brilliant and in the United Nations sequence, its classic! R Balki’s direction is a departure from the films that he has made in the past. He’s known for urban centric films but he beautifully treats the film well and makes it look like a real Indian film. He had a huge challenge of ensuring that the film’s direction is as awesome as the script. And thankfully, he emerges victorious. There are places where the film is a bit unconvincing. The manner in which Laskhmi gets raw material is way over the top, though funny! Also, the romance bit that develops in the second half might seem unnecessary. But these are very minor goofs and the plusses outweigh the minuses beautifully!
Some of the best scenes:
1. The songs ‘Aaj Se Meri’, ‘Sayani’ and ‘Hu Ba Hu’
2. Lakshmi buys the sanitary pad for the first time
3. Laskhmi’s conversation with the doctor
4. Laskhmi visits his sister and shit happens
5. Laskhmi goes to meet his neighbor at night
6. The pre-interval scene and interval point
7. Laskhmi at the professor’s house
8. Laskhmi meets Pari’s friend and then Pari
9. Laskhmi at IIT
10. Laskhmi gets his first women employee and the sequence thereafter
11. Laskhmi at United Nations (outstanding!)
12. The last scene
On the whole, Pad Man is surely one of the greatest films to have come out of Indian Cinema. It takes up an important issue and thankfully, executes it very well. As a result, the impact is manifold. Akshay Kumar delivers his career best performance in this flick, which should also emerge as his highest grosser. Missing this film would be a big crime. Go for it and here’s hoping it gets tax exemption ASAP!
My rating – ***** out of 5!