“One need not talk only about love and romance on Valentine’s Day. Why not you talk about ‘perfect menstruation’ to your girl friends? In a sense love for hygiene and cleanliness”, asks the real ‘Pad Man’ Arunachalam Muruganandham who was in the city for a special screening of his biopic film Pad Man (Akshay Kumar playing the protagonist) for special children.
In an exclusive to DC, Muruganandham talks on various issues including his expulsion from his village as they tagged him a vampire.
Does the film Pad Man reflect the true essence of you real life story?
Yes, 80 percent of it truly reproduces my real life happenings. The remaining 20 percent the filmmaker has to change, otherwise it would end up with an ‘A’ certification since it deals with menstrual subject where certain scenes cannot be projected visually. In fact, I watched the first day first show and tears (of joy) started rolling from my eyes. They have done justice to my story.”
When women itself shun from talking about the menstrual issue, how did this idea of making indigenous sanitary napkins strike?
After I got married to Shanthi in the late ‘90s, I found out that my wife collecting filthy rags and newspapers to use during her menstrual cycle, as sanitary napkins made by multinational corporations were expensive. I was very disturbed and started thinking about making a cost- effective pad. But it was not easy, as no woman came forward for my experiment including my wife and sister. So, I took a call and I wore the sanitary pad and made artificial uterus made of rubber and filled it with animal blood and tied on my hip. There is a small ‘press’ in it and blood will flow while walking or cycling.
Watching me, all the villagers thought I was a psycho. At one point they alleged that I am a vampire who sucks blood from females. I lost all my money, property in the process; still I did not give up then (sighs). My mom and wife left me. She even sent me a divorce notice. They even chained both my legs and hung me upside down once. Finally, they chased me out of the village.
Opinion is divided on whether Akshay’s protagonists are tweaked as North Indians while his films are based on biopics of south Indians. Comment
Initially, I planned to give this film to a Hollywood filmmaker, since it is global problem and would reach all over. But, they wanted a preparation time of 5 to 6 years, which I felt was too long. Through my research I found out among the 30 bad states, 24 are in north. So, I decided to give it to Bollywood so that it will have pan India reach. It is not for commercial purpose.
We did few trials with Akshay as a south Indian and even shot a few portions with dialogues. It was not good or acceptable. I have no qualms about Akshay portrayed as a north guy.
Who gave the first approval to your product?
It was a college girl who tried it. She was happy and said it was good. That’s the same thing Sonam Kapoor mouths in the film (laughs).
Pad Man is banned in Pakistan. Comment
We thought Arab countries would object, but surprisingly they are screening. There’s a huge problem with respect to menstrual hygiene in Pakistan. If they release they gain a lot of money, otherwise they are the losers.
What’s your message on this Valentine’s Day?
It need not be only love and romance. Why can’t the men and the boys talk about ‘perfect menstrualisation and personal hygiene’ to the girls and ladies of their house.