Updated: Dec 12, 2021
In the movie Padman, Lakshmi discovers that his wife uses an unhygienic cloth during her periods. Since they cannot afford a branded pad, Lakshmi decides to make a sanitary pad himself and the embarrassment associated with this task compels his wife and his family to leave him and his village to banish him. This speaks volumes about our society and the culture of concealment that exists even today. This topic is so stigmatized and there is so much shame associated with it that it harms women, excludes them, and makes them feel inferior and embarrassed.
If you go to buy a sanitary pad, they'll give it to you in a brown bag, as if it contains something dirty that needs to be hidden. In the movie, when Lakshmi goes to buy a pad, the shopkeeper asks him to quiet down and hands it over from under the counter. Even the women in the movie are made to sleep for a week outside the house which exposes some of the disturbing practices that are prevalent in rural areas even today. The ads that we see on television use such 'stain prevention' and 'leak prevention' language that reinforces the shame women are made to feel.
However, because of the rise of social media, awareness about this topic is increasing, which is also known as 'menstrual activism.' In the movie, Lakshmi is trying to do just that, since he wants to make a sanitary pad that is affordable and accessible to every woman in India.