The year gone-by witnessed a galore of protests and hullabaloos over the movie ‘Padmaavat’, its supposed distortion of history and the insult of a Queen who to date rested in the words of a noted poet. The protestors were of the opinion that given the cinema in this land influences the mind of the moviegoers more than any book or any intellectual spreading thoughts could ever, this movie which poses a threat to the valour and spirit of their ancestors, should be banned. Yes, the same great land which once boasted of individuals who could ward of the biggest of diseases and universities that imparted knowledge of the highest order, is now filled with such people who cannot differentiate between reel and real, apparently. Quite a sad scenario.
You must be wondering why am I starting off like this. I will tell you why.
Because when we say that what’s on our screens has the power to influence our minds and divert our senses from the real story to believe this to be true, then we should probably say the same for all. Then why, are there some who are questioning the movements and challenges that the stars put forward on social media, as mere gimmicks, conveniently putting aside the noble intentions?
Just a couple of days ago, a challenge started on social media. Named the #PadManChallenge, this was initiated by the makers and the actors of the upcoming movie ‘PadMan’ so as to create awareness around sanitary pads, and to normalise something which is actually something normal! We were glad to see male stars like Akshay Kumar (the lead in the movie), Anil Kapoor, Aamir Khan, Arjun Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao and many others leading the movement and happily posing with the pads without the slightest shame in their eyes. It is really a big move given these are the stars who have a tremendous mass following, even in areas where even the basics of feminism as a movement have failed to reach. It was a relief to see these biggies doing something which can scratch the surface of the taboo that has been created around the term menstruation.
Thank you @mrsfunnybones
Yes, that’s a Pad in my hand & there's nothing to be ashamed about. It's natural! Period. #PadManChallenge. Copy, Paste this & Challenge your friends to take a photo with a Pad. Here I am Challenging @SrBachchan , @iamsrk & @BeingSalmanKhan pic.twitter.com/lY7DEevDmD
— Aamir Khan (@aamir_khan) February 2, 2018
Yes, that’s a Pad in my hand & there's nothing to be ashamed about. It's natural! Period. @PadManTheFilm #PadManChallenge.
I challenge @Oprah @MadhuriDixit & @priyankachopra pic.twitter.com/5IPPyCozrU
— Anil Kapoor (@AnilKapoor) February 4, 2018
Copy, Paste this & Challenge your friends to take a photo with a Pad!
— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) February 2, 2018
But as it is said, if big names tread on a path of doing something good, feathers are ruffled and there will always be someone to question their intent. And in this case too, there were many. A few came up with their own versions of how this could be just a gimmick and another business strategy to promote the movie. Though their inquisitiveness was a gentle one, but it just poked a hole in a movement which obviously is a very good one.
SO WHAT, if it is a promotional strategy?
Of course it is a strategy, of course it has been done to promote the movie. And no, they may not continue it post the release of the movie. But that is when their responsibility of spreading the message ends, and that of us as a society starts, of picking it up, encompassing it, and spreading it. These are people in power who are actually doing something by way of their resources and craft, to bring about something good. We may not have seen the movie to judge it as a critic, but as humans, we have all the liberty to appreciate the fact that while they may have gone the ‘Judwaa’ or ‘Dabangg’ way to rake in crores and crores of money while tantalising the audience with painful cliches, they chose a story even the promotions of which are making patriarchy uncomfortable. (Note: Not questioning the genre of masala Entertainment, just a comparison)
Yes, they are stars and as the ones who are a part of the movie in some way or the other, they would want it to be successful and they would want to promote it in the best way, but let’s not belittle their intentions by calling it all a gimmick, because had their intentions not been to spread awareness about this taboo in the first place, they would have never even thought of picking up this topic, which indeed needs to be talked about by way of a full-fledged commercial movie. After all, the fringe groups think that for the whole population of the country, movies are too real an experience. So let’s appreciate the stars if they are bringing in actually real topics to screen to bridge the gap between real and reel.
And while I leave you to ponder, take a look at the stars of Bollywoodbubble who took up the PadMan challenge way before it started, and took their first step towards breaking the menstruation taboo.