New Bollywood film tackles taboo of menstrual hygiene

File - In this Feb. 9, 2018, file photo, Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar attends a press conference to promote his upcoming movie "Pad Man" in Ahmadabad, India. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki, File)
File - In this Feb. 9, 2018, file photo, Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar speaks during a press conference to promote his upcoming movie "Pad Man" in Ahmadabad, India. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki, File)
File - In this Feb. 9, 2018, file photo, Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar speaks during a press conference to promote his upcoming movie "Pad Man" in Ahmadabad, India. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki, File)

NEW DELHI — It's an unlikely scene in deeply conservative India: A hugely popular Bollywood male star grinning widely as he holds up a sanitary pad and talks of menstrual hygiene.

But that's exactly what action hero Akshay Kumar did as he promoted his film "Padman," which opened in theaters Friday. Kumar plays the lead role of a man who starts manufacturing inexpensive sanitary pads after he discovers his wife's lack of access to them in a small town in southern India.

The subject of menstruation and menstrual hygiene is rarely, if ever, discussed openly in Indian homes.

At pharmacies and department stores, tampons and sanitary pads get the same treatment reserved for condoms — they are handed to customers discretely wrapped in black plastic bags kept on hand simply for the purpose of saving them any embarrassment.

In many homes women are barred from temples and religious rituals as well as cooking or entering the kitchen when they have their period.

So Kumar and his film are definitely breaking ground in cleaving through the layers of taboo.

"Yes, these are pads. Yes, they belong to these amazing women. Yes, they were happy to lend me one so I could stand with them in support of this much needed initiative," upcoming Bollywood actor Siddharth Malhotra tweeted Friday along with a photo of him surrounded by female fans as he held up a sanitary pad.

Malhotra isn't the only mainstream star to speak up about menstruation. Dozens of other Bollywood actors and actresses have tweeted photos of themselves holding up sanitary pads as they gave the film a shoutout. Radio talk shows have been discussing the film and the shame generally associated with the subject in India.

"This, I think is the biggest achievement of #PadMan...men and women breaking the taboo," Kumar, 50, tweeted of his film.

The film is loosely based on the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, who invented a machine to make sanitary pads at a fraction of the cost of most commercially available products, when he found that his wife was forced to use rags and newspaper during her period.

Kumar's wife, the novelist and one-time actress Twinkle Khanna, wrote a book on Muruganantham's life, prompting her husband to make it into a film.

Must Read

Analysis: Face-to-face with Rohingya, pope...

Dec 2, 2017

Analysis: Face-to-face with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, pope ditches diplomacy to address...

AP: Rohingya methodically raped by Myanmar's...

Dec 11, 2017

The Associated Press has found that the rape of Rohingya women by Myanmar's security forces has...

Egypt's ballet dancers find passion on an...

May 12, 2017

Egypt's national ballet company is rebuilding after years of political turmoil and economic pain,...

Coming to you from a Cairo village: Egypt's first...

Aug 8, 2017

In shadow of Giza's pyramids, Egyptian entrepreneur builds country's first locally made minicar

Prison-themed restaurant in Egypt draws in...

Nov 28, 2017

Prison-themed restaurant in Egypt draws patrons with novelty

People also read these

Egypt's Christians flee terror in north Sinai...

Feb 26, 2017

Egyptian Christians fearing attacks by Islamic State militants are fleeing the volatile northern...

Egyptian statue recently unearthed is not Ramses...

Mar 16, 2017

Egypt's antiquities minister says a massive statue recently discovered in Cairo and thought to be...

Egypt moves bed, chariot of King Tut to new museum

May 23, 2017

Egypt has safely transported two unique items, a funerary bed and a chariot belonging to the famed...

Clerics offering religious edicts in Cairo metro...

Aug 1, 2017

Clerics offer religious advice from a booth in Cairo subway but critics say such fatwas won't root...

Egypt has a new hero: Liverpool striker Mohammed...

Oct 9, 2017

Liverpool striker Mohammed Salah scored a pair of goals to send Egypt to the World Cup in Russia

Weather, 20 December
Houston Weather
+7

High: +11° Low: -2°

Humidity: 83%

Wind: NNE - 7 KPH

Canberra Weather
+27

High: +27° Low: +17°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: W - 20 KPH

Roissy-en-France Weather
+6

High: +6° Low: -5°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: ENE - 7 KPH

Florence Weather
+9

High: +9° Low: +6°

Humidity: 97%

Wind: ENE - 17 KPH

Parga Weather
+7

High: +16° Low: +4°

Humidity: 100%

Wind: SE - 25 KPH

About Us

Welcome to the Daily Nomad, a peek into our nomadic lifestyle where you’ll learn more of our culture and live happy, wild, and free.

Contact us: sales@dailynomad.com