Sunday, Feb 25, 2018 | Last Update : 10:49 AM IST
The real ‘Pad Man’ of India, Arunachalam Muruganandham talks about the film Pad Man.
“Why don’t you talk about ‘perfect menstruation’ to your girlfriends in terms of hygiene and cleanliness?” asks the real ‘Pad Man’ Arunachalam Muruganandham who spoke on the occasion of a special screening of his biopic Pad Man (Akshay Kumar playing the protagonist) for special children in Chennai.
In an exclusive to The Asian Age, Muruganandham talks on various issues including his expulsion from his village as they tagged him a vampire.
Does the film reflect the true essence of your life?
Yes, 80 percent of it truly reflects real events from my life. The remaining 20 percent the filmmaker had to change, otherwise it would have ended up with an ‘A’ certification since it deals with menstrual cycles where certain scenes cannot be projected visually. In fact, I watched the first day first show of the film and tears (of joy) started rolling down my eyes. They have been able to do justice to my story.
How did the idea of making indigenous sanitary napkins originate?
After I got married to Shanthi in the late ‘90s, I found out that she was using filthy rags and newspapers as sanitary napkins, as pads made by multinational corporations were very expensive. I was very disturbed and started thinking about making a cost-effective pad. But it was not easy — no woman came forward to be a part of my experiment, including my wife and sister. So, I took a call and experimented on myself. I tested the sanitary pad with the help of a artificial uterus made of rubber, filled with animal blood and tied it on my hip. There was a small button on it and the blood would flow while walking or cycling.
However, the process was both mentally and emotionally draining as the villagers thought I was a psycho. At one point, they even alleged that I am a vampire who sucks blood off females. I lost all my money and property in the process but I did not give up (sighs). Even my mother and wife left me. My wife even sent me a divorce notice. Once, they even chained my legs and hung me upside down. Finally, they chased me out of the village.
Opinion is divided on whether the protagonists are tweaked as North Indians while the biopic was inspired from a South Indian story.
Initially, I wanted to offer this film to a Hollywood filmmaker, as it is a global problem and would have an international reach. But, they wanted to research for five to six years, which I felt was too long. Through my research, I found that of the 30 states that follow menstrual taboo and have poor sanitation, 24 are in North India. So, I decided the film should be a Bollywood production as it would have a pan-India reach.
We did a few trials with Akshay as a South Indian and even shot a few portions but it didn’t work out. I have no qualms about Akshay being portrayed as a North Indian.
Who gave the first approval to your product?
It was a college girl who tried it. She said it was good. That’s the same dialogue that Sonam Kapoor has in the film (laughs).
Any comments on the ban on Pad Man in Pakistan?
In Pakistan, menstrual taboo and silence around it are a huge problem. If they release the film, they will benefit financially.