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Watch Anupama Chopra’s review of Padman: Akshay Kumar plays a memorable and endearing character

I never imagined I would see a Hindi film in which the hero, played by an A-list star, puts on a sanitary pad and then squats several times to make sure it sits right. So firstly, big applause to Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna for putting their might behind this incredible true story that puts periods and female hygiene in the spotlight.

Padman is the cinematic adaptation of the story of Arunachalam Muruganantham, a school drop-out from Coimbatore who invented a low-cost sanitary pad making machine. Twinkle first adapted it as a short story in her book The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad. Muruganantham revolutionised menstrual hygiene in the country. His story is extraordinary – at one point, when no woman including his wife, was willing to give him genuine feedback, he did wear pads himself to test them. Honestly, if this wasn’t true, you wouldn’t believe it.

As long as Padman sticks to the fantastical true story, it holds. Within the first few minutes, director and co-writer R. Balki establishes that mechanic Lakshmikant Chauhan is unlike any other man in this village in Madhya Pradesh. He is extra-ordinarily caring and despite the lack of education, progressive. Lakshmi will create a cushioned cycle seat so that his wife can ride comfortably and devise a contraption for cutting onions so that she doesn’t need to cry while doing it. When he discovers that she is using dirty cloth pieces during her period, he resolves to help not just her but all the women around him. But no good deed goes unpunished and Lakshmi finds himself cast out. It is declared that he is mansik roop se bimar – a madman.

Until the mid-way point, Padman has snatches of power and emotion. Some scenes feel like a labored public service announcement and the melodrama gets shrill in places but largely Balki and his co-writer Swanand Kirkire keep the story moving. Humour is used cleverly. And Akshay, with his toothy grin and determined earnestness, propels the narrative with the wonderful Radhika Apte providing strong support. Despite the broad strokes writing, this relationship grounds the narrative in an emotional reality. The locations in Madhya Pradesh are nicely captured by DOP P C Sreeram. There are lovely visuals of a line of neighboring homes, each with an identical verandah to which the women are banished when their period comes. And I enjoyed the title track by Amit Trivedi.

But Padman wobbles precariously as it becomes more fiction than fact. The writing gets unforgivably lazy. Especially with the character of Sonam Kapoor. She gets the thankless role of Pari – a tabla player who becomes Lakshmi’s first client and cheerleader. We are told that her tabla skills are so good that ‘poore Madhya Pradesh ko hila diya’ but after that tabla is never mentioned again. The romantic angle between Lakshmi and Pari is the weakest link in the film – it’s both unnecessary and unconvincing.

The story seems to disconnect from logic and reality. Amitabh Bachchan, credited as superhero Amitabh Bachchan, appears to give a speech on the innovative spirit of Indians. There is a montage of Lakshmi making his low-cost sanitary pad machine, which looks like a nicely lit undershirt commercial. And though Padman is firmly committed to women empowerment, some of the dialogue is painfully clumsy. At one point, a character says – mard hone ka maza ander ki aurat jagaane se hi aata hai.

Padman, a superman without the cape, is a memorable character. Like the real padman, Lakshmi is self-deprecating and very funny – especially in the climactic speech at the United Nations. I wish the film matched his sparkle. I’m going with two and a half stars.

Published Date: Feb 12, 2018 15:31 PM | Updated Date: Feb 12, 2018 15:31 PM


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Berlin Independent Film Festival 2018: Aditya Kripalani’s directorial debut Tikli and Laxmi Bomb wins Best Film Award

Author-filmmaker Aditya Kripalani’s Tikli and Laxmi Bomb have bagged the Best Film Award at the Berlin Independent Film Festival 2018, reports Mumbai Mirror. Tikli and Laxmi Bomb is a film featuring Chitrangada Chakraborty and Vibhawari Deshpande as sex workers and marks the directorial debut of Kripalani. The story of the film has been borrowed from the director’s third novel of the same name.

Poster for Tikli and Laxmi Bomb. Image from Twitter/@brand_banter_m

Poster for Tikli and Laxmi Bomb. Image from Twitter/@brand_banter_m

The feminist drama has an all-women technical crew, according to the same report and was lauded by the critics following the screening on 16 February. The film bagged the top prize on 18 February at the 10th edition of the prestigious film festival, which aims to bring small-budget, indie films to the fore.

Not just Berlin, Tikli and Laxmi Bomb has been garnering praise at other international festivals too. It happens to be the only Indian film to be screened at New Zealand Asia Pacific Film festival. “But what is greater than the win at the Berlin Independent Film Festival is that we’re also screening at London’s oldest cinema house on 21 March as part of the UK Asian Film Festival, where two powerful films — Lipstick Under My Burkha and A Death In The Gunj — were also screened,” an excited Kripalani tells Mumbai Mirror.

The film is set in Mumbai and follows the life of Laxmi and Putul, who take over the reigns of the sex trade.

Published Date: Feb 20, 2018 10:53 AM | Updated Date: Feb 20, 2018 11:37 AM

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Alicia Vikander, who plays Lara Croft in upcoming Tomb Raider, says she loves ‘being drawn into big adventure films’

IANS

Feb,20 2018 12:10 41 IST

Los Angeles: Oscar winning actress Alicia Vikander says she loves “independent and arthouse” cinema, but is also attracted towards the big adventure films.

Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. Twiiter/@TombRaiderMovie

Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. Twiiter/@TombRaiderMovie

The actress, who will be soon seen as Lara Croft in the forthcoming film Tomb Raider, also shared that she found training and muscle-building exercise for the role, empowering.

“My mother, who’s an actress (Maria Fahl Vikander), introduced me to the world of theatre and film. I loved independent, arthouse films, but like most people, I also loved being drawn into big adventure films, like the Indiana Jones movies,” Alicia said in a statement.

“So, with Tomb Raider, I had the chance to work on something that’s very different from my previous work, but which has long been close to my heart: a big action and adventure film,” she added.

Tomb Raider is based on a popular reboot of a video game with the same name. The Warner Bros Pictures project will release in India on 9 March.

Talking about her role, the actress said, “Along with that came the opportunity to explore my physical side on a film. I come from a dancing background, so when I learned that playing Lara would involve three or four months to get in shape — well, that kind of preparation and the chance to create a new physique are gifts. I found the training and muscle-building to be empowering.”

Tomb Raider is directed by Roar Uthaug with Oscar-winner Graham King producing under his GK Films banner. It also features Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu and Nick Frost.

Published Date: Feb 20, 2018 12:10 PM | Updated Date: Feb 20, 2018 12:10 PM


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Kamal Haasan’s Indian 2 to reportedly be remade in Hindi; Will Ajay Devgn play lead role of top cop?

While Kamal Haasan will be soon seen in S Shankar’s Indian 2, the filmmaker is also planning a Hindi remake of the same and will reportedly approach Ajay Devgn to play the lead role of a cop.

Kamal Haasan. Facebook

Kamal Haasan. Facebook

DNA reports that the details of the plot of the sequel, titled Hindustani 2, are not known yet but Shankar, who is currently awaiting the completion of one of the biggest sequels and movies to be ever be made in India, the Rajnikanth and Akshay Kumar starrer 2.0, a sequel to the 2010 smash hit Enthiran or Robot, looks all set to reboot one of his earliest hits after twenty two years. 2.0 is currently delayed due to massive VFX work and the Rs 400 crore magnum opus has been deferred even further than the previously announced 27 April release, with no new date announced yet.

Meanwhile, Devgn is currently busy with another sequel, Indra Kumar’s Total Dhamaal, along with Raj Kumar Gupta’s Raid, where he plays an honest income tax officer from UP.

The original Indian was a story of an ex-freedom fighter who is disillusioned by systemic corruption turns vigilante while his son indulges in illegal activities. Haasan had essayed both the roles, of father and son, and the film was known for its iconic use of prosthetic makeup, a landmark in the 90s for an Indian movie. The film also starred Manisha Koirla and Urmila Matondkar and featured music by AR Rahman.

Published Date: Feb 20, 2018 12:33 PM | Updated Date: Feb 20, 2018 12:33 PM

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