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Padman: Cause or Commerce

What: Movie Review and Musings
Film: Padman
Starring: Radhika Apte, Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor
Language: Hindi
Year of Release: 2018

Disclaimer: This is not Just a Movie Review

Why I Was Not Excited About Padman!

To begin with, I was not happy when I heard that Akshay Kumar and team is making a film called Padman. While the subject is close to my heart, my biggest contention was the fact that Akshay Kumar was making this film and not Aamir Khan. 

But naturally, I was not too happy with Mr. Kumar's previous OTT stints viz- Toilet [too below my expectations], Airlift, Rustom [loosely inspired from Yeh Raaste hai Pyar ke starring legendary Suni Datt] Jolly LLB 2 wherein the causes were trodden beneath the star worshiping Bollywood commercial story-telling. I almost felt that Padman would be another point the case. But thankfully, it isn't, at least completely.

I know that commercial viability is important for producers and the movie makers to meet their expenses, fuel the economic activity and make justice to the hard work that goes behind making a film. However, I am totally uncomfortable with the idea of championing social cause through box office cash registers or a probable PR positioning.  Alliteration but no allegation here. I am however very glad that someone had made this film, giving it a fair treatment, a larger podium that the subject deserves.

Needless to say, I liked watching Padman. 

I watched the film with low expectations and a critical bent of mind and still liked it. To me, commerce aside, it is an important pebble in the ocean. Like I mentioned, the subject is close to my heart and I have many narratives[incl experiences] of rich, poor, city, small town, school etc to share, which I keep on sharing on my blogs and, will continue to do more. 

Right now, let's talk about the film.

What I Liked in Padman!

1) A Right Start: The movie started with Laksmikant's marriage, giving a quick glance to the setting in a hummable song, and moves towards the subject, seamlessly. Thankfully no cheapo/embarrassing moments like "ex-affair in kheto wala" scene [ref toilet] or lifting the Khaled's Didi or done to the death "Amitabh Bachchan's narrative". 

So the first impression is set, comfortably and quickly. Thank You for saving us from all the unnecessary foo-fraw. 

2) An interesting and Fresh cast:  All the characters in the film looked new and added to the story including Lakshmi's mother to the medical college students to Radhika Apte who so looks/talks like her timid wife character, to the doctor, butcher, everyone else in the film.

For a story as fresh as this, getting a cast without bringing any stereotypes as attached to many artists is imperative. I would not deny the presence of Big names like Akshay Kumar [a little better than his usual stereotypical portrayals] and Sonam Kapoor as you may need some bigger names to bring more audience to the theatre and the cause. Heard of Phullu anyone? Ok, so how many of you heard and yet watched it?

Whether they fit the bill perfectly or not is a different discussion and we shall hark on that soon.

3) The Strong Subject: Menstrual Hygiene and the Taboo attached with it is a big slap to our cellular civilization wherein we are ok to sleep with our bacteria infused cellphones, take them to our dining tables to Prayer rooms but banish menstruating women as if she is menstruating from her hands and fingers, threatening all your physical and spiritual practices.

A lot of us may not understand as we are blessed with accommodating families like ours who do not treat menstruation as an outcast but breaches barbaric belief to practice larger inclusiveness. Films like these are not just celebration for all those empathies but a tool for creating awareness around this sensitive issue, even in the garb of commerce. The movie was quite sensibly made.

If Bollywood's hunger for Biopics can help drive a cause like this, so be it. I prefer to see the story of the real Arunachalam over many other Superhero of the fragmented world.

4) A point in case Screenplay: The movie thankfully is not superficial but has its own share of surrogated reality. It has various scenes that will touch your chords just right. Right from the beginning when he does not let his limited financial means to give her a better life. He uses his sensibilities and skill to refurbish an automatic chopping board or that cycle seat. These small innovations are the heart of India and I am glad that the movie highlights this. 

[Of yes, for a brief moment I wondered how come he never saw his mother/sisters chopping onions?]

Another scene where Lakshmi Kant insists the menstruating Gayatri to discard the "choot-achoot" banish mode and step inside the house, and all the scenes wherein he tries to convince her to start using the pad and stay away from the taboos related to the period, should be reckoned as part of mandatory education curriculum. 

There is another scene when he tries to help his sisters but everyone fails to understand him. The confrontation scene with his sister is so real and straight to the point. 

5) Intelligent Writing/ Execution: The subject could have run the risk of getting boring or one-sided, or preachy. 

Thankfully, the movie took an umbrella approach. It tried to explore different opinions wrt to the problem and probable solution seeking without losing the single-minded focus on the subject but exploring on the subject matter as the Protagonist attempts in an endeavor starting from trial and error method [Arunachalam M actually did it], failing miserably still not giving up even in face of ostracism, being morale down by a professor himself but emphasizing on the power of self learning, high cost of the machine, rather ideating, taking cues from things like swing, management based learning, puri-bhaji etc. 

Well, that was a perfect amalgamation of bringing the boons of "haves" and inspiration of "have-nots". For which the entire credit must go to the real Arunachalam M and his journey. For those who were not aware of him, have a great chance to learn it from this movie.

Allow me to share another favorite scene- was when Lakshmi Kant looks for right TG to get the feedback and those succinct inferences/ dialogues like-

"Dharam Dharmender ban ke marega""yeh toh golgappe se sharmati hai""kaash mein bhi koi baba hota, jo deta pooja kar kar pehenti""maasi aap 10 saal choti hoti toh madad leta"

6) Hitting on the Consumerism behind the sanitary pad: Believe me, this norm [over expensive Sanitary napkins, lower accessibility has to be challenged. Though the film does it subtly, I was glad to not see any endorsing brands in the films. 

Humbly, the cost is not always an issue but the beliefs are. In the movie, Lakshmi Kant cleverly questions his wife that when she can spend Rs 51 plus to offer coconut to a man-made caricature of God for an anticipation of moksha post life but cannot spend Rs 55 on sanitary a pad that can better her life? It was a clear sarcasm for all ppl who think spending on sanitary is futile.

ANOTHER slap on consumerism face was the exceeding cost of the sanitary napkin in India wherein the brands change the logo or packaging color from green to pink and push the cost to consumers. It was a missed opportunity which the film should have subtly covered without conveniently crediting all the cost to mere machine cost. Yes, Padman you could have done more here instead of that unnecessary love angle.

The Necessary and The Unnecessary Criticism 

To say that Padman was flawless, would be an exaggeration. However, the certain criticism going around this movie made me burst into the laughter. Thank God I did not read a certain review before watching the film. 

1) Sonam and The Tabla: Looks like a lot of people were looking to find faults in the movie hence they went seeking "how loosely Sonam Kapoor" played the Tabla in this movie. Like upper body intense moment, lower body moment missing and all those unnecessary technical aspects as if she played a tabla star in the film. To me, I think Sonam Kapoor played her part just well. Better than what she did in her other author-backed film- Neerja. 

Her angle, say a character in the film was a catalyst that helped Padman's vision see a funding and PR reality. Sure it would be great if they would have starred a fresh face here to ensure the streamlining of the story. But if you were Sonam Kapoor and would have asked to play this role, would you have said no? Well, I would not have said no but yes, what could be avoidable was the unnecessary love triangle between them esp the airport scene as that just unnecessarily drifts you from the entire pad concept of the film, taking away film's greater chance of bridging the glorious moment from the Un speech to the final climax.

I was looking at the intent, the content and the message the film was delivering and all you saw is how Sonam played Tabla and why she did not play it again in the film. come on?

2) Low on Bondage, High on Scenes: The film had no effort in establishing Lakshmikant's relation with his sisters but had some scenes that were unnecessary like how sister rob their brothers for rakhi and Bhai dooj. The fact that none of his sisters could understand him.

3) THE MOVIE IS BASED ON REAL LIFE STORY OF ARUNACHALAM M AND NOT TWINKLE KHANNA'S STORYBOOK: It bugged me to read/watch the reviews that suggested otherwise. Dear Critics, pl get your homework done.

The film is not a remake of Twinkle Khanna's book but is inspired by the real life story of Arunachalam Muruganatham. I have not read Twinkle' book but I have watched M's TedTalk video and apparently researched on him some years back say 2012-213 when inspired by his Tedtalk video, I wrote a blog on the issue and even won the first prize. That made me felt that there are people who feel equally emotional about this issue.

It would have been awesome if the man was credited at the beginning of the film Yes, I know someone paid for the right and production but the inspiration is one of its kind and comes handy when telling your viewers how real inspires reel and your magnanimity too.

4) The Speech at UN: It was a beautiful speech and had many bear-ance to the presentation that Arunachalam gave at TedTalks. I am sorry to say, you cannot compare it with "English vinglish" [dear critics, esp one with flummox English but lower research, get some facts rights before your broadcast] it was one of the biggest highlights of the film, a very crucial for the climax.

5) The Man in the Madhya Pradesh: One can see Akshay Kumar trying hard to come out of his usual character and be more of the Lakshmikant but, unlike what Aamir Khan did to Phogat's character in Dangal, was quite missing here. Even in his promotional events, I see that effort lacking from the actor's side. Missed opportunity Mr. Kumar.

On the contrary, it was Radhika Apte who did total justice to her Gayatri, in both- looks and mannerisms, absolutely blending with the story and the setting.

6) Unnecessary Love Angle and the kiss that was never there: You know what I meant. It was as futile to see as the various Instagram images of celebs holding a pad to promote the film. It was an interesting market strategy when Ekta Kapoor did it for something like "Beat pe Booty". Here it looks more like a poor caricature than leading a mass awareness.

Should have rather donated trucks of pads at remote areas in India or share the movie's substantial revenue towards such federation. That would be a more real and valuable marketing. Akin to the fact that my respect for Khiladi Kumar increased when I heard about his donation made to help farmers from committing suicide in Maharastra [via Mr. Nana Patekar, who I heavily respect for the same]

7) Missed Opportunity: The film with great production values and the chirpy writing of Mrs. Funnybones could have also dwelled in the importance of having a "within a family" conversation on the subject. It may be there subtly but not as apparent.

Numerounity's Overall Views: I saw this movie twice and none of them was a special screening that could color my views or make you think it was a paid plugging. However, I liked the movie in totality and happy with the fact that a subject like this was a part of a mainstream cinema.

Yes, this movie should be India's entry to the Oscars. As I believe it is not just an Indian drawback but many countries around the world need to empathize with this. 

Padman may be a commercial, critical strategy but its execution is upto the mark. If a senseless movie like Chennai Express can make crores, Padman is atleast largely coherent, logical and important.

Needless to say, I feel sorry for the audience in Pakistan wherein the film is banned. Tsch Tsch, I thought art was above politics.

My Rating: 4 stars for the subject, and a better treatment. (-1) for that unnecessary kissing scene and casting someone as popular or strong as Sonam Kapoor, only to diluted the subject matter towards the climax. The makers should ideally remove that clutter from future screenings to bring more validity to their intentions/work.

I would insist that everyone should watch this movie with their family, together or otherwise. 

Happy watching,
Ekta Khetan

PS: wrote this piece last Saturday, sorry for the delay. The author had some personal/ economic activity to fuel her expenses that sometimes delays her heartfelt writing. I am thankful at least this article saw day ka light. You can read it even in dark though :) Cheers!

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Padmavat or Padmavati: Not An Open Letter

Padmavat: Why this Kolaveri Di?

You know the song that everyone would have sung after watching [finally] the movie Padamvat [Padmavati]? Yeah, the uproar was unavoidable but quite unnecessary to a greater extent. I am not saying that you should allow filmmakers to play with your sensibility in name of creativity. I, however, believe that there's a lot that goes into defining sensitivity from one cause to another farce.

Padmavati, another magnum opus of acclaimed director Sanjay Leela Bhansali received lots of flak when a newspaper article claimed that the shooting of the dream sequence between the Ranvir Singh [playing Khilji] and Deepika Padukone as Padmavati is complete. Call it a bad publicity or controversy inciting tactic, it fell flat and gave rise to many political and territorial unrest.

From the song sequence to the exposed midriff to movie's title, there were quite some edits that were incorporated in the film. I am not sure if it is worth to debate what were they and why so unless a bona fide press release and not that "Flowing Ganga, let's a dip kind of open letters". 

Even if they are, to each their own, name it a freedom of expression or the fact that the Ganges is open to all. A healthy society flourishes only when one can express their views without being mocked, denied or repressed by the one with a conflicting opinion.

Watching Padmavat: A Required Prologue

Not discrediting his/their efforts, I have given up on the lavish period dramas by Indian Directors like Ashutosh Gowarikar and Sanjay Leela Bhansali [SLB]. Blame it on Jodha Akbar or Mohanjodaro by the former or the somewhat disappointing "Bajirao Mastani" by the latter. 

Even the controversies did not entice me enough to book my tickets or check in a preview. It was just an unfunctional lift and a lack of an identifiable activity on a lazy Saturday noon that made us book the 3D show in a multiplex nearby and plonk in the not so clean looking seats at Cinepolis to watch this movie. 

Needless to say, I went to watch the movie open minded [as you should watch any film] without being a Rajasthani, not a period movie aficionado, a walking talking checklist of the controversies surrounding it. I even braved my unexpected fall at the overly slippery stairs before the beginning of the movie and even avoided all the bad snacks that Cinepolis, Fun Republic Andheri West serves that could possibly leave any bad taste not necessarily related to the film.

Did the film leave me in bad taste? well, read more to know.

My Humble Views Post Watching Padmavat

These are few of my "collective" observations, views that I felt after watching Padmavat the film-

1) What's in the name? Then what's in changing the name?: With due respect, I did not like the name change and feel it was unnecessary. Aargh, the name! Padmavati was a better name than Padmavat and I see no reason for the change? Why can't the film be named on the lead female character? Chauvisim! All those references and disclaimer to avoid controversy by accrediting it to Jayasi' Book could be a safe bet but not in the event of violent oppose. 

2) What is the Crime? All the protestors should be actually paying money to SLB for glorifying the story where a king cannot save his kingdom, innocent citizens in name of a false pretense of a pride that need not be brought where it was not required? A king's Kshatriya dharma is to protect and not offer his head to ethicless intruders. While I do not know the Raja in person, so are you sire, let's not unnecessary get into the debate. Oh yes, several Hindu/Indian Raja refused to help each other against Moghuls or even the East India Company. 

3) The Ghoomer Song Controversy: If you were talking about that inch of skin being visible while doing the ghoomer song or not sticking 100% to the dance form but mixing other forms of same state dance, then I am not sure about the former as it did not look derogatory or titillating but could be still taken as genuine request for edit. Maybe the fusion of dance was an artistic edit and could be taken as a tool for promoting all the other dance forms of Rajasthan including Kalbelia. See the positive.

The third most evasive argument that it was not befitting the queen to dance in public. Well, from what I saw in the film has The Rani performed a Gauri Pooja for her husband and post that danced in her recreational areas with other women to celebrate the occasion.

And from whatever history I have read- Call it Hindi, Moghul, Congress, BJP or blah blah, the mentions of Rani having such activities like dancing or singing with other women at her confinements are very much apparent. In the men folklore, only the king was visible in the song. Kyunki he is the king and king can go anywhere..blah!

Honestly speaking, when I first saw the song, I did not like it and immediately messaged back to the PR saying that it is nice but could have been better. However, in the 2nd-3rd watch, the song grew on me apart from the fact that they did not copy paste the original in new beats but penned a new one for numerous weddings and other cultural fests to feast on. 

4) A Little More Credit for Aditi Rao Hyadri: Aditi Rao Hydari looked equally beautiful as Deepika. I am sure if she was cast as the Padmini, she would not have looked less beautiful and would have done justice to the porcelain beauty. Seeing her a name as supporting cast [even if I dunno much about Mehru] is well justifying to Bollywood's worshipping only the popular names.Maybe next time onwards, give her meatier role and presence. She was enchanting and yet so artful

5) Strong Women are Work of Fiction: Why do people fictionalize all the wonderful women in history? Earlier it was Jodha Bai, now Padmavati? 

6) Limited Creative Liberty: When it comes to film-making, movie makers take all possible/commercial creative/artistic liberty. So, when you have you shown Rani Padmini as a Sinhalese and not Singhal warrior, what did you do with all her Warrior skills post her Doli to Mewar? Not meaning to bring down their plight, but being a Sinhalese warrior, why couldn't SLB's Padmavati killed Khilji and taken him to Jauhar [producing another Nayab thing in his life]?

I guess it is high time that filmmakers should ideally script their own story or stop taking unnecessary creative liberty in the name of filmmaking. In your bid to stand on two boats, you will be bound to hurt sensibilities and fall. Though I feel, post-Padmavati incident, Filmmakers may get little more careful as to whether political or regional, protestors and troublemakers will not take it easy either. 

7) Why Injustice is Always An Indian Fiction: Why is the story accredited complete fiction or a bardic imagination when all the states, forts still exist including the signs of mass immolation at Chittorgarh Fort? Just cause you do not have any other reference than Jayasi? Going by that logic a lot of things in Ancient India, Pre/Post independent India could be a fiction. 

It is like watching PK question the overall wrongdoing in name of religion. You know what I mean?

8) Glorification of Jauhar: Post the movie I heard many including some names that I like talking about Bhansali glorifying Jauhar in this film. 

I understand that after doing a film like "Anarkali of Arrah" if one of my favorite actress Swara Bhaskar in her open letter had accused Mr. SLB of glorifying the Jauhar menancing it meager to a vaginal violation issue that forced women to perform such dreadful act. In my humble opinion, it could not be just the thought of a rape or sleeping with the enemy that would have made them take such a brazing step. It may be the thought of being badly humiliated and violated by not just the winning king but their cruel act of vandalizing the "won" women that may have forced the delicate ladies to take such step. and in no way, I think that the movie glorified it. It quite showed the pain and agony in every bit of the process. Why go in history, even today you would find substantial women claiming to be dead rather than bending or succumbing to a wrongdoing]. 

Rape is not just a vaginal penetration always. It is and can be more painful and cruel than that, leaving an impact not just on the body but minds too. A certain moronic woman asked me, even people with higher self-entitlement may ask how do you know the pain of rape, are you a rape victim? I know, as one big mouth woman asked me once on a public forum where some other hypocrites chose to abide her. Well, for each their own idiosyncrasies and myopia. However, I strongly feel that you need not have to be a victim to understand someone else' pain or compassion. That way one not just show their pettiness but unnecessarily enforce to bring miseries into the world when empathy could be the armor. 

Coming back to the subject, I am a staunch protestor of Sati Pratha and would never have wished that any women had to undergo such an act. I so much hope that if all these protests or the demands of seeking someone's nose were for demolishing a bigger evil in the society. As I grew up, I could feel [and not justify] as to why certain women would have thought of embracing death than living a helpless life. I have seen some of them, chained to numerous miseries, violations and what not. No, not all women can be expected to show immediate self-strength without an abled intervention, let's stop living in that fool's paradise.
While I do not justify Jauhar, nor glorify, I could not deny the helplessness of certain courageous women who willingly or unwillingly succumbed to this while fighting the age-old sexual oppression. 

9) Where is the Real Pride?: It is like- Let's worship Ma Durga but continue to insult women. For the biggest cause and concerns in our developing country is not poverty, women safety, child education but seeking to cut a woman's nose as if the woman is not a living being, have no emotions and will never know what you said or the fact that it shows how cheap one can get.  Why are those ministers or MLAs still in power and not stripped off their positions who demanded [rather say perpetrated or instilled hatred in public] to bring an actress's head/nose just cause she played a heroic historical character much against your male chauvinism?

10) Padmavati for Gen Y: Notwithstanding the revenues that the film will ring at the box office, it will also help in spreading the awareness about the Raja, the Rani and the whole saga in the new youth who is so disillusioned by the subject History. I bet many children will now know about the legendary saga and will take a deeper interest in the Indian/World History, including the Pokemon and the Khal Drogo generation. It is a symbiotic society, as long as the filmmaker can sensitively handle a subject and create more mass awareness and conscience awakening, it is applaudable. People are making money with films like Grand Masti and other Crass of its mile but am sure that is not the kind of education our generation actually need. Though highly prevalent and cheaper to execute without much effort. 

Numerounity Overall Thoughts
I do not know Malik Muhamed Jayasi or nor do have any intention to challenge his authenticity or question his literature. I have not read it. Like my blog or the poems that I write - often based on real incidences , cause or sometimes a marginal fiction without being alien to reality, well even his work could be anything. 

The objective is not to question someone's work as fiction or bardic allowance or cinematic alleviance but the idea is to take things in the right spirit, filter the waste and take the good learnings.  I do not mean to use thesaurus words either. The movie is up to you to dissect into good or bad, as it is your right to like or not like anything. However, vandalism or creating public disharmony in the name of anything is not right.

I saw many Policemen, seating at multiplexes in a bid to prevent any protest or violence. I found that unnecessary. We as a public are watching a film to entertain us. Whether we like to be entertained or no, is our choice but making the armed forces delineate from bigger objectives/responsibility towards the nation and standing up for an unjustified cause is the violation of democracy and even a bigger failure of local government including the leaders who perpetrated the hatred.

Instead of asking Deepika Padukone's head, one should read about the multiple heads err hat approach of Edward De Bono, it will help them to bring good governance and increased popularity. Remember unlike our history, everything will be chronicled these days, making it to the pages of future history. So be right than mere righteous. 

I am sorry if I hurt anyone's sentiment, am too inconsequential to do that. I would be glad if I positively motivated you. Do let me know in the comments.


#InvestBefikar in #LifeGoals with Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance: Bloggers Meet

When Blogs Meets the Businesses

There is a lot that we expect from life every day. Some aesthetical, some material. Men or women, everyone has #LifeGoals. Our #LifeGoals are often long-term and would require a considerable amount of finances, essentially the financial investment. 

Talking about investment, if there is one Indian brand that deserves the highest recall and great credibility, it is Bajaj Allianz.

Earlier this week, Bajaj Allianz invited a group of bloggers from different domains including Finance, Lifestyle and Journalism in an interesting tete a tete with their leaders- Mr. Tarun Chugh [MD & CEO] and Mr. Sampath Reddy [CIO]. Like their previous meets, it was another fun-filled and engaging session which began on a wonderful note wherein ace comic artist Suresh Menon AKA SB Anandan filled the room with his hilarious investment anecdotes and unending laughter. He was at his wit best, playing a word on word, and highly engaging.

He also invited few bloggers on the stage to quickly discuss their investment preference, including yours truly. I totally like his work and was so overwhelmed when he invited me on the stage. He even came down and escorted me on the stage. His gags filled the room with joy and brim. What a great start to the day.

Getting into hardcore financial discussions may get daunted for many and I totally liked the approach that Bajaj Allianz demonstrated wherein they chose to kick start the day on a lighter mode, slowly progressing to the serious discussions.

Time to Aim Your #LifeGoals
Post the standup, there was an interesting group activity planned wherein the bloggers at the different tables were formed in a group of 5, ranging from ages 20 to 40+. Guess what, we played an interesting dart game wherein we were asked to select one #Lifegoals from the dart board and asked to aim, hit the same to score a point. The two teams with highest numbers of the hit were declared the winner of the game and took home some amazing gift vouchers from Amazon.
Rest of us took a lesson that –

  1. You can have #Lifegoals at any age provided you know to hit your target. 
  2. You are close to hitting the target at the younger age, so invest young.
Post the activities, we moved to the most awaited moment of the day- Leaderspeak, wherein the two business leaders told us about their perspective on Indian growth vis a vie indicators performance, investment, different hindrances while making an investment decision, along with their newly revamped ULIP plan.

One of my favorites was the part wherein we compared, brainstormed different investment options viz- Fixed deposit [the highly popular yet lowest yielding], Mutual Funds [Risky with good returns but low tax benefit] along with ULIP [Long Term Investment, Tax-Free Returns with flexibility to switch]

Do you know that-India has a large pool of household savings at INR 26trillion

We closed on a brighter note, eagerly waiting for their upcoming launch. Leaving home with these beautifully designed goodies [pics] and a refreshed curiosity towards the ULIP as a long-term investment option.

Want to know more about their new ULIP plan? Stay Tuned to this blog for more.




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