Actor-writer Twinkle Khanna, who produced Akshay Kumar-starrer Padman, has revealed that there were many people who questioned her decision to back a movie which supported the cause of menstrual hygiene. Twinkle said that since menstruation was still a taboo topic in India, she faced the challenge of finding people who would finance such a movie.
Padman is inspired by the life of Tamil Nadu-based Arunachalam Muruganantham, who created affordable sanitary napkins for the women of his village. The film, directed by R Balki, is based on the short story, The Sanitary Man of Sacred Land from Twinkle’s book The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad. The film, which released this year, earned over Rs 100 crore at the box office.
“When I started making the film, a lot of people said, ‘Are you crazy? Who is going to watch a film on menstruation? People don’t talk about it.’ That was the challenge – to find people who would be ready to finance a film like this. As a team, we were determined and we realised the impact (of the film) as the government announced that they are installing sanitary pads vending machine at railway stations and there was an impact on the GST. We did play a small part in bringing that about,” PTI quoted Twinkle as saying at an event in Mumbai.
Twinkle, 43, has been roped in as an artiste ambassador by Save the Children, a leading Child Rights NGO in India, to champion the cause of adolescent health and menstrual hygiene. She visited the slum area in Govandi on November 16 to interact with adolescents, who are part of Save the Children and its partner agency Apnalaya in creating awareness.
“I created awareness through columns and a movie. We needed to do a ground work and it was great to be a part of Save the Children. Also, we got to know that 20 per cent of school girls drop out because they hit puberty and they do that because of the taboo around menstruation. They do not have access to low-cost sanitary pads,” she said.
Citing the example of a 12-year-old girl from South India, who committed suicide after she was reprimanded by her teacher as her uniform was stained, Twinkle said there is a need to change the mindset.