Akshay Kumar's upcoming film Padman focuses menstrual hygiene and the actor is actively voicing his opinion on the subject without holding back.
At a recent promotional event, the Bollywood actor emphasised that not only should tax on sanitary pads be exempted but they should also be free.
"Why just cut down on GST? I think women should have free access to sanitary napkins. This is their basic necessity. It is about menstrual hygiene and not luxury," said Akshay.
He stressed that if hitting puberty is celebrated then there is no reason for women to be shunned for it or made to feel ashamed of periods.
"It is unfortunate and I am ashamed to say that 82 percent [of] women in India have no access to sanitary pads and they are treated as if they are outsiders and are made to sleep in the veranda."
The star added, "When you celebrate the fact that a girl has hit puberty, the girl, who is already going through a physical and hormonal change, will feel that something good has happened to her and she will be more confident and secured. I don't understand why we Indians think that we need to hide anything related to periods."
"Wearing pink panties with a sanitary pad was not at all challenging and shameful for me. I did it with complete ease," said Akshay Kumar
Akshay had to wear a pink underwear with a sanitary napkin in the film and he had no qualms about having done so nor was he embarrassed of it.
"Wearing pink panties with a sanitary pad was not at all challenging and shameful for me. I did it with complete ease," he said. "You guys feel it is a challenge, but it is the most natural thing. The day you guys will stop seeing it as a challenge, more women will be comforted. So I don't think my role in the movie is challenging, or that we are talking about a sensitive issue. I am glad, I am seeing more and more people discussing sanitary pads on social media. That's a victory in its own way."
What made him upset was the treatment of women due to the taboo surrounding periods and the lack of menstrual hygiene afforded to them, "Since the last couple of years, I have been meeting women. The biggest problem for them is their periods. It is not only because of the physical pain that they go through, but people around them make it a taboo. They do not have personal hygiene at all which is disheartening. It is shocking and shameful that we treat our women like this."
"Like many other social issues, religion is definitely one of the reason menstruation is seen as a taboo," said the 50-year-old actor.
Which social issue is next for the Bollywood actor? Dowry, it seems.
"I have not thought of any cause right now. But recently I met a fan and she asked me 'After Padman, what's next?' and I asked her to tell me what I should make my next film on, and in a very stern voice, she said, 'make something on dowry!'. She said it so strongly that even I got thinking."
Padman will hit screens Jan 25.