Movie Review: PadMan
Director: R. Balki
Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor, Radhika Apte
PadMan movie trailer
Padman is a story which can be narrated in a single line but the team behind this tries to add every ingredient to make this connect with everyone. Lakshmikant Chauhan, played by Akshay Kumar is the man who wants to create pads for his wife and family. Being in the middle-class zone, the branded pads comes under the luxury section for Lakshmi’s family.
A loving but naive wife is scandalised as her husband is “obsessed with women’s problems”. It is moments like these that make Akshay Kumar’s PadMan elevating, without being didactic. R Balki’s much hyped film is based on the real life story of Arunachalam Muruganantham, called India’s “menstrual man” for transforming the lives of underprivileged women who had to use old rags, sand and leaves during their periods. Despite being peppered with melodrama and some scenes that go on for too long, the entertaining PadMan delivers a robust message — the importance of women’s menstrual health.
The script of the film Pad Man dances on a tightrope, what could’ve been an extremely preachy attempt manages to entertain you most of the time. Written by the director, R. Balki himself the story stays honest with itself. “Charas gaanja de rahe ho kya?” Kumar’s character says in a scene while purchasing pads from a medical shop. So, there are ample of such moments accurately portraying what’s been wrong with our thinking since ages. Follow Spotlife Asia for the latest Entertainment and Lifestyle news.
Kumar character portrays a school drop-out who works as a mechanic. He has just got married and is smitten by his wife Gayatri, played by Radhika Apte. Minutes into the film, we are told that not only Lakshmi loves his wife; he is also sensitive towards women and their problems. The film traces Lakshmi’s fight with the society, his family and even his wife, and his own financial and educational limitations, in order to ensure women start using hygienic alternatives when they are menstruating.
PadMan begins on slow note and drags on for some time before picking up pace. The characters in the supporting cast seem to be in a race for overacting – be it Akshay’s onscreen mom or random background characters in every frame, they look like they were simply lifted from a 60s movie.
However, the film forces you to look at the big picture. The film tackles the “shame” that our society insists on imposing on periods, head on. From women being ostracised during “that time of the month” to young girls shying away from school to avoid any “embarrassment”, co-writer Balki and Swanand Kirkire have managed to put it all out exactly as it is.
Some of the exchanges that Lakshmi has in the course of attempting to find a cheap alternative to sanitary pads seem in-your-face, but these also bring forth issues that our society needs to address.
Akshay Kumar, once again, lives his role as Lakshmikant Chauhan. His never-ending appetite for making things work for his family really makes you feel for him. He implants his trademarked innocence to the character making it even more lovable. Not his best performance, but surely one of the best.
Radhika Apte is earthy with her presence but she has got a lot of tears to shed. Crying almost in everyscene, she raises the bar of being over-dramatic. Overall, a fine job but she deserved a better-written character.
Sonam Kapoor is pretty bold and bouncy in her small appearance and surely sparks the chemistry with Akshay. Her character makes quite a late entry in the narrative, but adds charm to every frame she inhabits. Her character is beautifully etched, perhaps to balance Radhika’s naive and self-destructive wife. Sonam’s character not only offers marketing and financial help to Lakshmi, but also shares a modern and chilled-out life mantra when the former is unsure of himself.
While Radhika disappears into the naive, blindfolded woman who believes “auraton ke liye sabse badi beemari hai sharam”, Akshay tries his best to be the superhero he has come to be identified with in his films.
Only, Akshay’s accent and tone often fluctuate between those of a villager, a person with the basic knowledge of English and someone who is educated enough to differentiate between American and British accents. Sonam plays a privileged South Delhi girl and fits perfectly into the role. She also gets to mouth some of the best comebacks directed at Akshay in the film.
R. Balki has this habit of writing his own films and with Pad Man it has actually proved beneficial for the film. The story required the same guy for both given its sensitive subject. Balki has made sure to say things in a way everyone understands without getting uncomfortable. Some might feel thorny about some scenes but that’s what a film with such subject comes with. Making a mother say “Kitna dubla ho gaya” on seeing his son’s photo after years in a newspaper is what Padman offers you.
Music by Amit Trivedi is a hidden gem of Padman. It’s there and it’s very good but very few will get it because it’s piled under numerous layers such as story, performances, screenplay and narration. It starts with a melodious song in Aaj Se Teri and ends on a goofy title track having a couple of good tracks in between.
Every good thing comes with an expiry date and enjoy this era of Akshay Kumar till it lasts. The combo of entertainment plus message-driven plot is a rare occurrence and Padman fits the bill.