“Till date, close to 82% women still do not use sanitary pads, instead they opt for straw, ash, or sand,” said Hindi film industry’s Superstar Mr. Akshay Kumar who visited the Symbiosis International (Deemed University) campus at Vimannagar, today, to for a panel discussion on ‘Cinema as a medium of social consciousness and cultural transformation’.
Mr. Kumar spoke of his upcoming movie ‘Pad Man’ which is inspired by a true story of innovator Mr, Arunachalam Muruganantham, who is well-known as ‘India’s Menstrual Man’. Appreciating the journey of Mr Arunachalam, Akshay said, “It is a commendable feat that Mr Arunachalam invented an easy-to- use machine worth Rs 60,000 for producing low-cost sanitary pads. His machine has created jobs for women in rural India.”
While addressing the gathering, Mr. Akshay said, “In the olden days, women were asked not to step in the kitchen, so that they could take rest during the menstruation cycle. But over the years, people condemned this as a taboo and banned women from having pickle or touching idols and so forth. Menstrual cycle is not a taboo. It is a natural occurrence and it is time we all accept and embrace it. I personally feel, sanitary pads should be made available free of cost.”
Dr Vidya Yeravdekar, Pro-Chancellor, Symbiosis International (Deemed University) thanked Mr. Akshay for choosing Symbiosis as a platform to promote his movie, “It is good that commercial actors like Mr. Akshay are producing movies with a social cause.”
Dr. Ruchi Jaggi, Director, Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, said, “When a mainstream commercial actor talks about a subject like a menstruation, it is symbolic of progressive cinema. An entertaining film with social consciousness at its core can instill sensitivity in audiences in extremely effective ways because of its earnest storytelling rather than preachy messaging.”
The Ambassador of Gambia Her Excellency H.E.M.S. Jainaba Jagne was highly impressed with the plot of the movie and stated, “It is just not in India, but across the world that people need to be educated about the menstrual cycle. It is not a taboo, it is a natural occurrence. No one would have been born, if women did not have periods. I looking forward to broadcast this movie in Gambia as well.”
While highlighting the challenges he faced, Mr. Kumar said that “Pad-Man is not one of the regular commercial movies. A lot of people were skeptical about it. People kept telling me who will watch it. What will people say? One time, while addressing a gathering the moment I spoke about menstrual cycles, there was pin - drop silence. This has to change and it is a collective effort put in by all of us.”
Mr. Kumar pointed out that the onus is on each citizen to bring about cultural transformation by saying, “I am glad my wife, Twinkle Khanna came up with this movie idea. We can’t wait for the government to make changes for us. Rather, be the change you wish to see.”
This event was organized by Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication (SIMC). Approximately 700 students and faculty member from across multiple Symbiosis institutes attended this event.