Askhay Kumar's project Padman tackles the taboo behind menstruation head-on and the film's director hopes to do justice to it.
Padman is based the true story of Arunachalam Muruganantham, the man who built machines to enable women in rural areas manufacture low-cost sanitary pads for their communities.
"With such topics, it is easy, especially as men, to misunderstand what women go through," R Balki, the director behind the upcoming venture, told Scroll.
He added, "Yes, menstruation must be made a taboo-less subject, but we also need to talk about the way women want it to be talked about. It is a private matter but it is nothing to be ashamed of."
"But at the same time, you cannot scream 'I've got chums, I've got chums' – it is not that kind of film. The way to be progressive about these topics is to know to not take it to absurd levels. It is about saying yes, it is a natural process and that one must take care of it and be hygienic – that's all there is to it."
During his research he came upon a number of words used to label periods, the strangest one being 'test match'.
"There's so much slang associated with this stuff – you'll be shocked to know that some people call it a test match. It is a five-day affair, right? In many languages, it is a signal and a gesture, and not even a word. So I've tried to refer to the uncomfortable things as well, stuff that doesn't even have a proper word."
But Baki is well-aware that his film should convey the message without sounding preachy. "It is not a documentary. It should be entertaining. But at the same time, it cannot be insensitive entertainment."
"I don’t think anyone gets any message through lectures. People get it through entertainment which we wanted to subtly weave in. I hope people, while watching this film, identify with the characters, smile or regret about things they identify with or even end up saying, oh we should be doing this."
Padman is Twinkle Khanna's production venture, made in association with Gauri Shinde of English Vinglish fame. The film also stars Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte in lead roles. Amitabh Bachchan will be making a cameo appearance.