Long before Akshay Kumar’s movie Pad Man was released Padman Arunachalam Muruganantham – the man himself, who has invented the machine for making low cost sanitary pads – had already been featured in a series of films. ‘Pad Piper’ by Akanksha Sood Singh was one such venture commissioned by the Japanese broadcaster NHK, which later went on to win the National Award for Best Film on Science and Technology in 2014 in India.
Akanksha’s venture takes you on the life altering journey of the Coimbatore-based school dropout Arunachalam Muruganantham who through trial and error over 6-8 years finally managed to invent a machine which has brought about a silent revolution in the Indian hinterland. His machines have helped scores of women across rural India by giving them livelihoods and by helping them live healthier lives.
In a nutshell, the film explores how his innovation, a low-cost sanitary-pad making machine, is changing the face of menstrual hygiene for thousands of women across India. In itself it may not sound path breaking, but this simple machine has the potential to change lives of women across the world and give them dignity. Today Muruganantham’s machines are deployed across 758 villages in 24 states in India and in 8 countries across the world where women are making sanitary pads under different brand names.
Akanksha handled the subject in great details to create an awareness among the women who consider the subject a taboo. She has depicted Muruganantham's curiosity about his wife's use of cloth during her periods which led to shocking revelations and made him do extensive research lasting over 8 years including wearing a sanitary pad himself.
Akanksha took a good one and a half years to make the documentary film going places with Muruganantham including Andaman and Nicobar islands, countless villages in the interiors in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Haryana. She even traveled to Japan and USA to understand the differences in perception about menstruation in the developed countries.
Akanksha has all the praises for R. Balki ‘s film ‘Padman’ starring Akshay Kumar which was released in February this year. She says, “One of the biggest things is that when something finds its way to mainstream, one of the main things is, it gets the eyeballs. They reach out to a far, far wider audience than a documentary film. The kind of impact and social message that can be put into a commercial film can have a far reaching impact than a documentary will have.”