Akshay Kumar starring the much-awaited movie Pad Man is indeed making waves online with the trending #PadManChallenege. The challenge that was initiated by the real-time character portrayed by Akshay Kumar in the movie, dubbed as the “Menstrual Man” 46-year-old, Arunachalam Muruganantham. He stood against all the odds and prejudices of the rural community to an extent that he lost his wife (divorced) and his mother left him too. The man who steer clear of the stereotypes and paved a way to educate, enlighten and evolve women hygiene in the rural areas by innovating a manual cost-effective machine has totally garnered all our respect and honor.
Muruganantham found his wife hiding something from him, and even upon his interrogation, she revealed the rugged cloth stained with blood that she used during her period days. Sadly, he asked her why not to use the sanitary pads to which she remarked that the pads cost 4 times more and will lead to financial crisis. He found his wife and sisters to be using the old rugged cloth which was so dirty and unhygienic that he would not even clean his two-wheeler with it, he quoted.
Mururgantham in order to impress his wife bought a packet of sanitary pads and discovered that it weighs only about 0.5 gm of cotton which is sold at 4 times higher price. This shocked him and led him to an endeavor of producing a sanitary napkin for his wife himself. He tried to make a sanitary pad and gave it to his wife, Shanthi who told him that periods happen monthly. Murugantham added an element of humour as he narrated the entire incident and continued with a provocative statistic which revealed that about 99% rural women used sand, leaves, ash, dirty cloth and all kinds of unimaginable filthy things during their periods. This was one of the major cause of women reproductive diseases.
In order to test his sanitary pads, he approached the medical school girls who didn’t help either. Therefore, he was left with none other choices than to try the sanitary pad on himself. He became the purveyor of women empowerment through this little act of wearing a sanitary pad by fixing an equipment with goat’s blood and some lab blood mixed with it. He wore this under his clothes and cycled around the town only to discover that it exuded a foul smell and left him feeling wet and messy. He had a long way to go.
Mururgantham through his conviction broke massive mountains with a sledgehammer singlehandedly. He fought against the stigma of menstruation and sought to produce low-cost sanitary napkins which indeed cost him his family and ostracization from the village. However, in 2006, this mad scientist was awarded by the then President of India, Mrs. Pratibha Patil. It was after that when he started publicizing the idea in the villages of Uttarakhand, Bihar and surrounding areas.
The man with a golden heart believes that he doesn’t intend to earn money with his idea instead it’s his moral and social responsibility which compelled him to take this task and what truly makes him happy is the fact that girls in Uttarakhand village who were debarred to attend school after their period are now happily going to school and learning. This school drop-out has done what Nehru failed to do.