Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor, Radhika Apte
Director: R. Balki
Producers: Twinkle Khanna, SPE Films India, KriAj Entertainment, Cape Of Good Films, Hope Productions
Writers: R. Balki (Based on 'The Legend Of Lakshmi Prasad' By Twinkle Khanna)
What's Yay: Akshay Kumar, Direction, Concept
What's Nay: The film comes across a bit preachy in a few places in the first half
Popcorn Refill: Interval
Iconic Moment: Akshay Kumar's monologue towards the climax strikes your emotional chords. Another scene is when his character Lakshmi receives his first consumer feedback.
Newly-married Lakshmikant Chauhan (Akshay Kumar) is head over heels in love with his wife Gayatri (Radhika Apte). Their heartfelt chemistry is beautifully explored in the track 'Aaj Se Teri' in the beginning.
Slowly when Lakshmi discovers about Gayatri's menstruation, he tries to coax her to stop using dirty rags for her monthly periods and switch to sanitary napkins instead. However, Gayatri expresses her shock over the pads' expense and feels reluctant to use them with the taboo surrounding the natural process.
Petrified of Gayatri falling victim to unhygienic menstrual practices, Lakshmi decides to challenge the age-old beliefs pertaining to periods and tries to make low-cost sanitary napkins for his wife. Unsuccessful attempts later, Gayatri winces over her husband's obssession over a 'ladies problem' and at a point even questions his sanity.
When the villagers discover what Lakshmi is upto, they misunderstand his noble intention and dub him a madman. Ashamed of her husband's doings, Gayatri leaves for her maternal home and Lakshmi is forced to leave the village to escape the hostility. The rest of the film revolves around how he becomes 'PadMan' and gives wings to women to fly during the menstrual days.
At the beginning of the film, it is made evident that PadMan has a generous dollops of fiction added to 'India's Menstrual Man' Arunachalam Muruganantham's life story. R. Balki's latest outing is based on the chapter, 'The Sanitary Man of Sacred Land' from Twinkle Khanna's book 'The Legend Of Lakshmi Prasad'.
Taking some fabric from Twinkle's book and Muruganantham's life, the filmmaker weaves an intriguing story that's high on emotions and leaves you question the preposterous 'do and don'ts' surrounding around a natural process in a woman's body.
Unlike the other Balki films, here it's the first half of the film where the narrative gets a tad jarred as preachiness seeps in a scene or two. The sluggish pace also dampens your interest a bit. However post interval, PadMan picks up pace with its crisp writing and wry humour and Lakshmi's journey becomes your own.
Lately, Akshay Kumar has become a crusader of sorts with picking up stories that are relatable to the common man. After talking about open defecation in Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, the superstar chooses a topic that rarely stirs up a conversation.
An actor known for his dripping 'machoism' DARES to wear a pink underwear and a sanitary pad to prove a point...here's the time when we can proudly say Bollywood has come a long way! It's Akshay Kumar's Lakshmi's endearing quality and optimistic attitude towards obstacles that make him near and dear to you.
Radhika Apte is no doubt a bundle of talent. Her scenes with Akshay Kumar have a life on their own. However, her character stumbles at a few places with its unnecessary melodramatic tone.
Sonam Kapoor's introduction scene looks a bit awkward. But very soon, the girl pulls up her socks and seamlessly fits into the narrative. She brings in her own charm as a progressive city-bred MBA graduate who helps Lakshmi to fly high in his mission. Her infatuation track with Akshay Kumar might come across as a Achilles heel for some while few might view it as a bold undertone in Balki's directorial.
Amitabh Bachchan's cameo ( a Balki mandatory) is enjoyable.
While Arunachalam Muruganantham is from Coimbatore, PadMan has shifted its base to Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh. Barring a few character accent-slip off here and there, the film stays true to both- the rustic and urban backdrops.
Chandan Arora's editing scissors could have been a little more sharper to reduce some chunk of the dragging narrative in few places.
Arijit's Singh's soothing vocals in 'Aaj Se Teri' is a magic charm. The PadMan song and Hu Ba Hu are hummable. Rest of the tracks barely make a mark.
Kudos to Akshay Kumar for taking up a subject that's generally spoken in hush-hush tones fearing the 'stigma' attached to it. To bleed or not to bleed isn't a woman's choice. It's a natural process which makes humankind a possibility and needs to be viewed as a 'moment of empowerment'. PadMan is definitely a 'bravura' step in this revolution despite of its own set of shortcomings.