It is that time of the year when Akshay Kumar begins his Bollywood campaign. Republic Day and a film release of the superstar are synonymous with each other and it is no different in 2018 either, what with PadMan as his first release of the year. The subject is of course quite close to Akshay’s heart; it all started when his wife Twinkle Khanna wrote about it in one of her columns and then began to evangelize it across various forums. Soon enough, there was a genesis of an idea that was put together which has finally shaped into a full-fledged film. We get into an exclusive conversation with the man of the moment.
From Toilet – Ek Prem Katha to PadMan – Guess the issue of hygiene is quite close to your heart?
Well, there is no point standing on the side-lines wondering who’s going to do it for us, who’s going to help the hygiene crisis for the underprivileged, who’s going to clean our streets & fix the potholes, who’s going to make sure girls are comfortable at school so they can continue to study for their rightful education, who’s going to make India a better India! These can’t just be catchy slogans thrown around like empty promises, these are movements that not only need to be respected but practiced & abided by.
I feel it’s the duty of any public figure to do whatever, whenever & however they can to better the lives of those across our nation. There are issues that need addressing, toilets & menstrual hygiene are just some of them, but only expecting government to provide all we need is asking a bit much, especially when we are capable of helping and spreading awareness ourselves. It’s not about being of service, it’s about doing one’s best with the means God has provided.
And what would you suggest to men in general?
If many men were to cherish their wife’s lives the way I do in the film, they too will do anything to make every day of the month better for them! Women’s lives should be made far more comfortable, because if it was us men that had to deal with half the things they do, we would have holidays every month. And in PadMan I show just how much I’m prepared to do to make my wife’s life a better one. Why should she be banished to the home with nothing but dirty rags for five days out of every month, that’s two months every year taken away from her because of menstruating in discomfort and backward thinking by every man around her?
Women should be made to feel comfortable before, during and after their Periods, and if it takes me to announce it on the big screen to numb the shock of this subject then so be it. When people see the kind of behaviour on celluloid, maybe they too will join our movement and stop hiding behind discreet plastic bags under the counter and be brave about helping this sanitation crisis disappear along with its pathetic ‘taboo’ label.
Genesis of PadMan is the short story penned by your wife Twinkle Khanna. How much do you owe her for the fact that now an entire film is being made on this subject?
How much do I owe her!? She is my Producer, she owes me naa! (laughs)! In all honesty I am extremely proud of my wife for attacking this subject wholeheartedly against the many odds a woman with a voice, let alone an opinion, faces sometimes. She is the bravest most independent woman I’ve ever known; she stands only for what is right, no man, woman or child can get in her way, not even her own mother can tell her if she’s aiming too high, spreading her wings too far, or being too bold for simple minds. She lives for her morals; she fights for equality and loves purely from her heart but only listens to her brain.
I have and will continue to give my Super Woman the support she deserves, no matter what her venture may be. I am not only her rock but her pillow also. She is a brave woman who has made periods a topic of national discussion. Having said that, this is inspired by the true life story of Padmashri winner Arunachalam Muruganantham brought to life by us, with the will and want of my wife Twinkle Khanna and the need to help and make change by yours truly, made possible with Balki sir’s talent to tell a tale and my willingness to do what I’m told by my wife (smiles).