Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor, Radhika Apte
For someone who has followed the life of Arunachalam Muruganatham, PADMAN might be an insignificant film which almost trivialises the issue in some scenes and gets overtly dramatic in others. However, for the rest, PADMAN is the revolution that India needs, writes Shubarna Mukerji Shu.
When R. Balki sets off making a film, it is understood that it will be a clever spin on the social issue. Be it turning Amitabh Bachchan into Abhishek Bachchan’s son or turning Arjun Kapoor into Kareena Kapoor’s wife. He feeds on coups, that’s his style – so when he took on PADMAN, I was almost certain Arunachalam would see the film and hope his journey went like it did for Akshay! And I wasn’t wrong….
PADMAN is about Lakshmi who is a loving simpleton, who finds ultimate happiness when he marries and finds someone to spend the rest of his life with. He lives to make his wife, Gayatri (Radhika Apte) comfortable and reciprocate his care and love. All goes well, until he is made to understand about periods and the taboo it brings to an indian woman. Based in a village in India, PADMAN starts preaching already about the discomfort an indian woman has to phase when she is having her menses.
Being the loving husband that Lakshmi is, he tries his level best to make those days in his wife life comfortable, the first step is of course, to get her a sanitary pad. However, not everything goes as he planned. To begin with, his wife doesn’t approve of him speaking so freely about ‘women’s issues’, his sister doesn’t like it much… when none of the women around him help him, MBA student, Pari comes to his rescue. He no longer has to hang from balconies to give unsuspecting girls, who have just started menstruating,a sanitary pad. In Pari, Lakshmi has his own guinea pig and also an ardent supporter. What more, even her father seems to have unwavering faith in him. However, this is an R Balki film and not a documentary, so unnecessarily, Lakshmi and Pari become more than friends – why couldn’t Balki stay true to the genre? No clue? Why couldn’t he have found humour and emotion within the premise of the film? No clue!
In the bid of making the astounding story Bollywood worthy, they lost the plot and even the character graph. With a phenomenal actress like Radhika Apte completely wasted, giving Sonam Kapoor her star-status worthy screen space, made no sense. They reduced Apte into a watering pot but didn’t exalt Kapoor in anyway.
However the film is neither about Kapoor nor Apte, it is all about Akshay Kumar and his antics. The man is trying fervently to make a new genre for himself – social entertainers. Unfortunately for him, this movie isn’t as entertaining as his others. It never did have much scope for humour, and it misses out on EQ too. This coming from a woman, is rather unfortunate because one was hoping the film would speak to us on every level.
There are moments that are too forced, the stars in the film have complete apathy towards acting and are all on their own working on different frequencies. When Akshay is not trying to look goofy, he is speaking in a goofy manner, which is not even in the vicinity of humorous and it looks repetitive. Apte’s tears are painful, not in an emotional way but it becomes physically painful to look at her go on. For someone who has such strong views, this character was a complete antithesis from who she is, and it really should have given her a chance to let go, but the lady didn’t make a grab for it. I would put the blame for his squarely on Balki's shoulders - he didnt make up his mind soon enough about which way the movie should go. So PADMAN ended up being a film about good intentions and bad execution.