Rating : 3 / 5 stars
What’s it about?
Padman is a social drama directed by R Balki and stars Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte in lead roles.
Unable to see the ordeal that his wife goes through every month during her periods, Lakshmi Chauhan sets out to make low cost sanitary pads in order to ensure that his wife remain healthy. But no good deed goes unpunished, as he is branded a pervert and thrown out of his village. How he manages to accomplish his goals and win back the trust of everybody, including his family, is what makes up for the rest of the film.
First off, the film and its makers need to be applauded for tackling a topic that is taboo for most Indians even in this day and age. The social issue of women’s menstrual health and hygiene that is plaguing rural India has been handled deftly with a certain amount finesse and this is its biggest strength. Having said that, this is most certainly not a documentary and has most of the trappings of a commercial potboiler. There are scenes that are crafted specifically to manipulate the viewer into thinking a certain way. There are also many claptrap scenes interspersed throughout the film that should keep the viewer with a more commercial taste in cinema interested. The climactic speech that Akshay Kumar’s character gives about his journey and struggle is applause worthy and will surely move even the most hard nosed critics.
Small things, like the way he dresses up or is groomed, makes Akshay feel like an intruder in the world that Padman creates. With his uber clean shirts and vests, he often looks like a star rather than the character in the film. What is also a little hard to digest is the naiveté his character displays at certain things regarding the core issue of menstrual hygiene in the film. For example, an adult man who has grown up in the rural belt of India should know better than to approach a teenage girl in the middle of the night to present her with sanitary pads! The shock that he expresses at the outrage of the residents when caught after said event is equally baffling! It is in these sequences that the film stops feeling like a film and becomes more of a pubic service announcement. During the second half, the progression of the story occurs as a convenient series of happy coincidences, which again is a little hard to digest. Lastly, the romance angle between the married Akshay Kumar and Sonam Kapoor’s character is so badly shoehorned into the climax of the film that it ruins the impact of the whole film to a certain extent!
Akshay Kumar is always a treat to watch as he gives a charismatic spin to his character of Lakshmi Chauhan. Radhika Apte is perfectly cast as the middle class wife who cannot fathom her husbands obsession with sanitary pads. Sonam Kapoor is average as the marketing genius who shows faith in Lakshmi when the rest of the world turns its back on him. Amitabh Bachchan’s cameo hardly registers. Rest of the cast is good in their respective roles.
A decent film with a good message at its core, this is a one time watch for the casual filmgoer and a must watch for Akshay Kumar fans.