R Balki Interview: Doing a biopic is a big responsibility!
Featuring superstar Akshay Kumar alongside Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor, the film releases on 9th February.
One of the most popular directors from the current crop, R Balki is gearing up for the release of his much talked about film Pad Man which talks about periods. Yes, the film is inspired from the life of South Indian entrepreneur Arunachalam Murganantham who created affordable sanitary pads using a revolutionary method. Starring Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor in lead roles, the film releases theatrically on 9th February. In this interview with BollywoodMDB correspondent, Mohnish Singh, the director talks about the film, how he chanced upon the story and why he based his film in North Indian while the man behind the film belongs to Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. Excerpts...
Q. While doing research for Pad Man, did you come across any facts which surprised you?
A. There were plenty of things. I was very shocked when I discovered that 82% of the women in our country don’t use pads. They use clothes but what was even more shocking how they dry those clothes. They hide the cloth under a sari to dry it. There is a village in our country where women’s wash those clothes in the dirty water because they believe that even the water shouldn’t get contaminated. There are so many men who have never seen a pad in their life. They have never touched it. They don’t even know what’s happening to the women during those five days.
Q. Pad Man’s story is based on a man who is from South India, but your film is based in North India...
A. Pad Man is the story of a man who lives in South India. If I shoot this film in South India and show people speaking in Hindi how will it look like?
Q. Earlier you said you won’t do any biopic…
A. Doing a biopic is a big responsibility. It’s easy to write my own story because I can do anything in that nobody is going to question me about it. I did this film because there is no film made on pads. And you will never get a chance to make a film on pad again. In the world there is no single film made on menstrual cycle.
Q. Hindi film ‘Phullu’, which released last year, was based on the same subject…
A. We started ‘Pad Man’ way before Phullu. We didn’t even know about this Phullu, it just came and went. When we began this film the only thing on this subject was a documentary on Murganantham by BBC. This is the first film which is officially based on Murganantham life. Anybody who has done this film has done it illegally.
Q. Do you think that this film should go to international film festivals?
A. I have not made this film for award. I have done this film to reach a lot more people.
Q. When was the first time you met Arunachalam Murganantham?
A. We (Twinkle and a friend) met him at his workshop at Coimbatore.
Q. Has Arunachalam Murganantham seen the final film?
A. He hasn’t but soon he will. I will call him and show the film to Arunachalam Murganantham. I only told him one thing. This film is not about how true I am to your life. But at the end of the film you should tell me why I didn’t do this thing which I have mentioned in the film.
Q. Who is your favourite actor from the current lot?
A. Ranbir Kapoor, I think is one of the finest actors the world has. What an actor he is, if you see his Jagga Jasoos and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, seriously unbelievable. That kind of sensitivity and ability in an actor, I have never seen in anyone for a long, long time.
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