Sanitary Pads should be available for free, and not tax-free: Akshay Kumar

PadMan has been making a mark, and the audience has been loving the film as it breaks the taboo, inspiring people to talk about Menstruation, Periods and related topics people shy away from. In a chat with Mumbai Live, Akshay Kumar shares a lot about this project

  • Sanitary Pads should be available for free, and not tax-free: Akshay Kumar

Sanitary pads, periods and menstruation have been the talk of the country over the last year or so, and a film based on that was the need of the hour. Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna, along with R Balki, took a brave move to talk about the subject in PadMan. In an interview with Mumbai Live, Akshay Kumar talks about the journey, taboo and more.

Why shy away from talking?

Men and women, even today, shy away from talking about menstruation, puberty or periods, and I do not understand why. It is completely natural and will happen to every woman. There is a no reason for us to not talk about these topics. In fact, I believe only when we shy away from talking, we let a woman realise that something is wrong with her, and by that, we are seeding an incorrect thought in her. As I always say, only when our woman gets strong, will our country get strong? We need to teach our men and change their perspective. There are a lot of superstition and rules when women have periods and they are all baseless. Women shouldn't be left to feel bad.

Free and not ‘tax-free’

Our country spends a very big amount on funding defence and other sectors, but we forget to make the basic necessities free, in many cases. Imagine the impact, if only a small per cent of the fund is allocated to making a sanitary pad free. We need to raise awareness, and stop women from using ashes, leaves and other unhygienic things during periods. It’s an everyday need, and we need to support them. Talking about taxes, I believe that Sanitary napkins should be available for free, and just not be tax-free, as the production of pads can be done with a small investment.

Impact of ‘thought-provoking’ films

Films with such topics are needed, as people do not discuss or talk about it. We faced similar issues with Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, where we realised that it could backfire on us, but we still went ahead and made it. Data suggested that around 62 per cent people in India opt for open defecation, especially in the rural and underdeveloped belts, but after the film and creating awareness, the rate today has reduced to 33 per cent, which is phenomenal. With PadMan, I believe we have already won by making a mark, as we see many men, on social media, are talking about periods and sanitary pads. Around 83 per cent women don't use Sanitary pads in our country. All I want is that per cent should reduce and people know the importance of this natural condition.

What made you choose this role

The director of the film, Balki, did the research, and when I heard the story, I loved it, and hence I chose to work for the film. Arunachalam is an innovator and it is truly inspiring to see how he made this possible, both for the reason and at a low cost. The thought of making it for his wife to help her during periods is so heartwarming. Every woman in India goes through this, and it is important that people watch it, as the topic isn't a taboo anymore. I had never touched or held a sanitary pad as a child, but when I heard of it, a year and a half back, I was shocked to see what people use instead of a pad, without knowing the consequences. People want a change in their life, and today our society requires a change. With PadMan, we believe we can bring that change, and make a mark with the subject.

Balki and I thought of this idea. People smoke a lot, but do not understand the health hazards. We thought it would be great if we could collaborate and ask people to use to help women with a sanitary pads

Hesitation in wearing a Sanitary Pad?

Initially, when I was told about this, I thought for 30 seconds about how it would be if I wore one. But later it became easy as I understood, that it was a needed for the film. The intention of the film is to make sure people talk about it now, as it is the high time, and so wearing it or talking about it was not an issue at all, ever during the filming.

About the choice of films today

There was one time when the films weren’t working, but I have learned to not take lull or success seriously. Everything is bound to happen. As actors, we should focus only on working hard and believing in the skill. About choosing specific types of films, I guess its time I do what I wished for a long time, and that is to give back to the society. Back then I did not have money, but then, I have money now to take such risks, and that is why I make such films, with an intent to give quality content to the world.

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