Mumbai: While people are raving about Akshay Kumar’s upcoming film ‘PadMan’, we have another independent film titled ‘Phullu,’ which is based on the subject of menstruation and inventing low-cost sanitary napkins. While the film talks about educating the uneducated, especially teenagers about menstrual cycles, it comes as a sudden shock that the CBFC has given an ‘A’ certificate to the film. Terming this move as a huge roadblock for their film by the CBFC, actor Sharib Hashmi of ‘Phullu’ feels that targeting the remote areas should take a backseat, as tackling with the orthodox mentality of the so-called ‘civilised’ people is essential, who still consider menstruation as a taboo, and have rated the film as an ‘adult’ film. Sharib Hashmi has earlier worked in films like ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ and ‘Filmistaan’.
What made you say yes to this film?
Firstly, it was the concept of the film and screenplay. The way it was written didn’t make it a preachy subject. Although the film is an informative piece, it could have gone preachy at some point, but it didn’t. Such was the beauty of the film’s script. The most important attraction was the character ‘Phullu.’ It was a very endearing character to play. And also the fact that I’m playing the title role is exciting (laughs).
After doing supporting roles, how does it feel to play the central character of such a film?
It’s an amazing feeling. Whenever I see Rajesh Khanna’s film ‘Aanand,’ which is my favourite film, I am motivated to do such a character, that people would remember me for.
What kind of research have you personally gone through for this film?
I prepared myself with a lot of research on the Internet about the subject. My producers and directors guided me through the script. I saw the commercial of a sanitary napkin after my marriage, because prior to my marriage, whenever a sanitary napkin advertisement was shown, my mom would quickly switch the television channel.
Did you have an in-depth knowledge about menstruation before signing this film?
I was aware what menstrual cycles are. However, through this film, I’ve got an in-depth knowledge of this subject, which definitely left me stunned. I got to know that there are still around 70% of women who are alien about the existence of sanitary napkins, and while shooting for this film in Mathura, we tried and educated many women of the remote regions there, but have they applied that education, still remains a question. Most of them refrain from using pads as it is very costly. The government should lift the tax from sanitary pads. It is as essential as the basic need for food, water, and shelter.
Do you think this film would appropriately act as a medium to enlighten the sections of the society that still consider menstruation as a taboo?
Our film is releasing on a very small scale, so enlightening the society is a huge term for us. It’s an independent film and we want this film to reach to the maximum audience as it can. Rest is left on the film’s destiny. Another huge roadblock for our film is that the censor board has given ‘A’ certificate to our film, which is very shocking and saddening for us. According to me, the film should be widely shown across to the teenagers and family on the whole. We don’t even have to go to the villages to educate them, people in the city itself consider it as a taboo and therefore have certified it with ‘A’.
Is your film inspired by the real-life character of Arunachalam Muruganantham?
No, this film is not based on his character. ‘Phullu’ is a fictional character. Akshay Kumar sir is making ‘PadMan’ based on his life. Our film’s subject is similar, but it’s fiction.
What was the reaction of team ‘Phullu’ when you’ll got to know that Akhay Kumar is also making a film on the same lines?
We started filming way back in 2015, at that time we had no idea that somebody was coming up with such a film or would come up. Had we learned then that Akshay sir would make such a film, we wouldn’t even think of making ‘Phullu.’ However, our film was completed in September, when ‘PadMan’s’ poster was launched. Our film is going to do no harm to Akshay sir’s film considering his reach and massive fan following.
Do you consider ‘PadMan’ as an advantage or a disadvantage for ‘Phullu’?
One advantage is, that we made the film first and we are releasing it on October 16, before ‘PadMan.’ The disadvantage is that since Akshay sir has massive followers, his fans might not come to watch my film but go for ‘PadMan’, which is okay. I will anyway try my best to take this film to as many people as possible. I can assure one thing that after watching my film, the audiences will return back with a smile on their faces.
After ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ and ‘Filmistaan’, we haven’t seen you on the big screens often. Is it that work has stopped coming your way, or you have become too choosy with your films?
I’m not choosy at all. I signed many films after ‘Filmistaan’. Unfortunately, out of which a Nikhil Advani film got shelved and another film with Manoj Bajpayee sir got stalled. Apart from these, I’ve completed shooting for five films, which are at different production stages. Just awaiting the release of these films, since independent films take a lot of time to release because finding distributors and buyers becomes tedious. There is another special film, which is being produced and acted, both by me.
'Phullu' directed by Abhishek Saxena, starring Sharib Ali Hashmi, Jyotii Sethi and Nutan Surya is slated to release on June 16....