Social media is filled with images of celebrities holding up sanitary napkins – thanks to a massive campaign by the makers of the film ‘Padman’. All of this they say is to raise awareness and break the myths and taboos that surround menstruation in our country. The film Padman’s protagonist Akshay Kumar and their PR machinery are certainly leaving no stone unturned to get their point across.
Amidst all this, let me ask you if you have heard of or better still seen a movie called Phullu? I hadn’t until I saw someone mention it in a comment discussing Padman!
Released in June last year, Phullu tells the tale of an uneducated man of the same name who realises the inconveniences that women go through during menstruation and then sets out to create awareness about the issue.
Phullu, the protagonist played by Sharib Ali Hashmi, is an ideal young man who makes sanitary napkins with leftover cloth pieces and distributes it among the women in his village, even though his ageing mother Nutan Surya is against his profession.
He soon gets married to Bigni, played by Jyoti Sethi, and that changes his life. As the two enjoy their wedded bliss, Phullu comes across a packet of sanitary napkins manufactured in the city. What happens next is what the rest of the movie is all about.
At 96 minutes, this film managed to talk about a subject which for ages has been considered ‘dirty’ and a taboo. While the film did not ‘break’ any barriers or make a big mark for itself, the fact that director Abhishek Saxena and his team chose to tell this story is commendable.
Incidentally, Phullu was shot in a record 14 days flat.
Its director hoped to get across a social message to young boys and girls in various rural towns – who perhaps have never even heard of a sanitary napkin before.
In an interview, the director mentions how, until he bought his wife a sanitary napkin he had never even seen one. Until then, while the topic was known, it was always discussed amongst the boys in hushed tones.
With the movie, Abhisekh wanted to ensure that the next time a sanitary napkin advertisement came on the television, one wouldn’t change the channel and squirm.
Unfortunately for Phullu, The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) decided on an ‘A’ rating for it while Padman which has a similar subject has been given a ‘U/A’ certificate.
So while Padman is grabbing all the eyeballs, it is interesting to note that people have tried to speak about the subject through the medium of a film before.
It is the same with the man as well. While Arunachalam Muruganantham is now a name that everyone seems to know, India has many others who have been working for years on making sanitary napkins affordable and easily accessible.
Rohit Rajput of Mathura is one such person. For the last two decades, Rohit has been making ‘the cheapest sanitary napkin’, but unfortunately, no one seems to know him.
Here’s hoping that while Padman reaches the masses and gets the point of hygiene and menstrual care out, we also find and celebrate movies and people that are sometimes missing from the public’s attention.
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