I watched Padman yesterday.
I had watched a video of Arunachalam Muruganantham before Twinkle Khanna had come up with her book or Akshay Kumar with the movie. It was very impactful. It is not easy to did what he did. I have immense respect for him. Since, I had seen his story, I knew that a lot of things shown in the movie was in fact true.
I love Akshay Kumar! I think a lot of girls had a crush on him since the ‘Chura ke dil mera goriiya chali’ days. I feel his career graph has been amazing. Commercial success along with a social message is not an easy thing to achieve. And he had done it with ‘Airlift, ‘Toilet’ etc. Movies that show how gratifying it is to think about something / someone other than us.
What worked for me:
- The first half is quite entertaining. Interesting premise.
- Radhika Apte was apt for her role! This is the first movie of hers that I have seen! I may have seen parts of Badlapur.
- The audience would completely sympathise with Laxmi’s character. Poor guy is trying to help. He talks about logic and hygiene. But the stupid villagers are not willing to accept anything beyond their backward beliefs. I will not call them illiterate because even Arunachalam Muruganantham is a school dropout. Education is a good start but it does not guarantee anything. It is a lost cause on many! Our society is full of people who hold on to their regressive beliefs for dear life and do not care about much else. I guess it is a combination of ego, bullying by elders, hypocrisy, resistance to logic and unconditional love for stupidity!
- When Laxmi’s “product” gets rejected by his wife as “bekar” or with other women being skeptical to try it on, you really feel for the guy. It reminded me of the movie, ‘Toilet’ when they had broken the washroom he had contracted within his house! It was such a nice washroom with tiles and even a jet spray faucet!!
- The way women are treated during “those days” is well depicted in the movie. Even so called modern, women (who have access to sanitary napkins) are not allowed to visit temples or performing pujas during periods. People do not realize that these rules were made at a time when there no access to hygiene. They do not apply anymore.
- Radhika Apte (Gayatri)’s dialogue “Hum aurateein ke liye bimari se marna, sharam se marne se behtar hai.”. I think stupidity may the biggest disease in India!
- There is a scene in which Gayatri leaves her husband is back to her brother’s house because everybody (including she herself) thinks Laxmi is crazy. There, her Bhabhi falls down in the bathroom. Her brother taunts his wife for being fat, eating too much and breaking the pipe as the poor woman is struggling in pain. Gayatri looks at her insensitive, rude, mean, brother in horror who is a contrast to her husband, who was so sweet and caring. This was a very impactful scene. Girls, we may fight with our boyfriends, husbands for whatever reason but ultimately if your guy treats you nicely and cares for you, it is what matters. There are enough horrible men like this idiot!
What did not work for me:
- Sonam Kapoor! I don’t know why she was there in the movie. The one-sided love angle was completely forced and unnecessary. The movie dragged in the second half. I don’t know why Bollywood always has to have two women to show contrast between the gaon ki gori, bholi bhali girl vs the modern, English speaking shehar ki ladki. Sonam Kapoor (Pari) is playing herself. A privileged woman with an accent who says “Ashir what?” There was a girl from the medical college who was sympathetic towards Lakshmi. I think it would have been more credible if Sonam’s role was given to her.
- Pari’s father is a widower who raised her alone. He cooks for her, and they both seem to have a very honest, friendly relationship. In an absurd dialogue he says to Laxmi, “Baap hone ka asli ehsaas / maza maa ban kar hi aata hai!” “Aur mard hone ka asli maza aurat ho ka ata hai”. The writers may be trying to make a progressive movie but they carry their gender stereotypes to work. A father cannot cook for her daughter! If he is doing so he is being like a mother! Wow! Why can’t we just let good fathers be good fathers! They can be appreciated as fathers also.
- Laxmi’s speech towards the end should not have been made so comic. I did not find it funny but annoying, and corny. What I did find funny was Sonam Kapoor’s kiss before, and an unsuccessful attempt after! It was not romantic. It made me laugh. Why Bollywood! Why!
Towards the last 15 minutes I was just waiting for the movie to be over. Maybe the movie dragged. Maybe I should not go for a night show! Maybe when Akshay Kumar was delivering his ‘Linglish’ speech, all I could think of was the original Padman’s speech. I could not find the video which I had seen years ago, but I did find this Ted Talk link. Do watch it. He talks about how after making lots of money, people think about philanthropy. Why not do it from he start! Very inspirational video.
Overall, I understand that spreading a message is important. But in order to reach more people, our Bollywood keeps commercial success and commercial constraints in mind! Chalo koi nahi. What is important is that now everybody knows Arunachalam Muruganantham. A great man who did what probably no other man could. And who does not care about money! Respect! What is important is we are breaking the taboo around periods. Bollywood, we forgive your flaws, as long as the cause is good. Padman is definitely better than most Bollywood movies!