Reduce Defence Budget, Make Sanitary Napkins Free: Akshay Kumar
Akshay Kumar is fast turning into the modern-day Manoj Kumar thanks to the films that he has done off late. He has touched upon social issues like open defecation, terrorism and more. And with his latest film Padman, Akshay aims to uncover the taboo surrounding menstruation and the looming danger of unhygienic practices by women during the periods.
We chat up with him to know more. Read on
2017 has been pretty good for you. Have you made any resolution for 2018?
Yes indeed, 2017 has been very good. No, I have not made any resolutions. I have not really found anything to make a resolution on. Maybe you could tell me. Is there something I should give up? Maybe the only thing I could do is… start doing three films in a year rather than four!
A lot of people in the industry depend on your ability to deliver four films a year for their livelihood. Does not that pressure get taxing at times?
Not at all, there is no pressure. I have been doing this for 27 years now. 27 and a half to be precise. What will I do if not shoot for films? One film usually takes around 50 days or so to shoot. So I take around 200 days to finish 4 films. After that, there are over 150 days still left in the calendar. What should I do in those days? That’s why I take up some ads, do some shows and cut ribbons…
Maybe learn something new?
I am learning sword fighting these days.
Padman is coming up and this one talks about a subject that people have for long preferred not to talk about. When was the first time you got introduced to the issues related to menstruation?
Like most households, it was hidden from me as well. As I grew up, I figured it out along the way. But the fact that 82 percent of our women do not know much about hygienic practices, and that they use stuff like soil, leaves, ashes etc during this period dawned on me just a couple of years back. It is shameful.
What do you think is the problem?
I think we should aim towards removing the taboo around this subject. A journalist recently told me about her daughter who just attained puberty and how they have started talking about it. It is something people should celebrate rather than hiding. It is not something to be ashamed of. And this how we can change our thought process, help boost a girl’s confidence.
I don’t know how it will do at the box office, but our film’s biggest victory is that men are discussion pads today.
Sanitary napkins are often not used as they are not affordable. To make things worse, there are high-level GST on it. Do you stand with the voices that GST should be removed from these products?
In fact, I believe sanitary napkins should be provided free. I think we should reduce the defence budgets and reallocate money for such causes. Even if we reallocate 2 percent it would make a large impact. What is the point of spending so much money on defence when your women are not strong? When 82 percent of women do not use sanitary pads… they don’t have money and don’t know about it. And they are made to sleep separately… made to go through many tribulations for no rhyme of reasons.
When I met Arunachalam Muruganatham I got to know how he cared so much for his wife that he made his whole machine in merely Rs 60000. He is wielder and this was an innovation. If you make women strong it will make country strong.
Do you think the government could help by taking the film ahead?
If a cause is supported by the government it makes a larger impact. Like Toilet made a lot of impact. When I made Toilet, I got a lot of help from the government. They showed the film in villages. And that worked wonders. That works better than speeches.
I have been meeting a lot of rural women and I realise that periods are their biggest problem. Not because of the period as much as the way people behave with them in those days. You would be surprised in some areas people refer to it the five-day test match.
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