#PadmanChallenge: Promotional campaign or social responsibility?

#PadmanChallenge: Promotional campaign or social responsibility?

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 10 Feb 2018

Is #PadmanChallenge, which stormed the social media before the release of R. Balki’s Pad Man, a promotional approach coupled with social responsibility? IBNS correspondent Souvik Ghosh speaks to women to understand

One thing which has changed greatly in Indian cinema of late is the manner of film promotion. From Aamir Khan’s wandering outside former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly’s house before 3 Idiots’ release to the train journey undertaken by Shah Rukh Khan prior to the release of Raees, all were targeted primarily to sell their films.

Though the filmmakers have never claimed the campaign as a part of their promotion, questions can certainly arise as to why the drive to break the social taboo of menstruation has started just countable days before the release of Pad Man?

A similar question has been raised by former statistics student residing in Bengaluru, Debapriya Dutta, who is completely convinced that #PadmanChallenge is nothing but a promotional activity.

In a friendly chat with IBNS, Debapriya says: “Well obviously it's a kind of promotional activity of the Pad Man. If not, then why such challenges just before the release of this film or after the trailer got released? They should have created awareness long ago and even protested when high taxes were levied on sanitary napkins calling it a product of luxury.”

However, Delhi resident Avantika contradicts.  these are exemplary people and the most followed ones too. So if they endorse something of this sort, the taboo associated with periods may end”.

Avantika says, “It is a socially relevant topic that the film is themed upon and  number of celebrities involved in the promotion only helps in spreading the word farther."

According to some women, even if the makers have carried out the campaign for the purpose of selling the film Pad Man, at least some awareness has been generated in the society.

Women celebrities along with men posing with sanitary napkins has certainly reverberated the message that pads are not something that should be wrapped in a plastic bag.

“I think it is a good way to promote a film. At least for the promotion of the movie, the condition of women’s hygiene is coming out, and people can at least gain some knowledge from the promotion. Most of the Indians are still uneducated and has no idea what wrong is going on” says Tanisha Mukherjee, who is a recent pass out from Kolkata’s Bhawanipur Education Society College.

Though Debapriya is not sure about the long term effect of the #PadmanChallenge, she certainly feels “some amount of awareness should have been created which is really required in extremely remote places where 'periods' is considered a taboo”.

Periods as social taboo was also evident in the trailer of Pad Man where Akshay (who essayed the role of Tamil Nadu-based social activist Arunachalam Muruganantham), was looked down upon by his family members and most importantly his wife Radhika Apte in the film.

Padman is a story of Tamil Nadu-based social activist Arunachalam Muruganantham, who created a low-cost sanitary napkin making machine.

Muruganantham was inspired to create an inexpensive pad after seeing his wife use rags during her monthly cycle, just like 88 per cent of the females in India who do not have access to sanitary products.

Now considering the digital literacy, there is a big question mark as to how much the #PadmanChallenge, which has stormed the internet, will be effective in the rural areas.

Debapriya’s concern about the long term effect is echoed by Tanisha as it will be a real challenge to continue the awareness after the film will be off at the theatre houses.

Tanisha says, “I think this has a chance to become history, since this issue of prime importance will gain no such success I guess. So there is a high chance the awareness will go away with the movie."

It will be interesting to see whether the celebrities continue to pose with the sanitary napkins even after the film is taken off from the theatre houses.

Avantika reminds the campaign of eradicating open defecation which was greatly focussed in Akshay’s other big hit Toilet: Ek Prem Katha.

Avantika feels #PadmanChallenge is a just a beginning. “It isn't just a thing for the theatres and doesn't have a shelf life, I feel. We do have instances where cinema has enlightened us in myriad ways such as Dangal and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha to name a few. This too is gonna spearhead a new day in the coming.”

Above all, it is undeniable that thinking about exploring a subject like menstruation in Bollywood is indeed a bold step by Balki since 10 years ago, the filmmakers probably would not have thought much about the box office collections.

The #PadmanChallenge has spilled into all sections of the society as commoners were also seen to pose with sanitary pads. All we can do now is to wait and watch how the campaign benefits the society.

Images: Twitter

#PadmanChallenge: Promotional campaign or social responsibility?

India Blooms News Service
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