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Review: Padman drives a powerful message on menstrual health

Film Review: Padman

Writer & Director: R. Balki

Producer: Twinkle Khanna

Rating: Three and a half stars

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte, Sonam Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan ( guest appearance).


At a time when we should be celebrating the achievements of women in society who battle against all odds in both urban India or rural countryside, it is a human tragedy that we are nurturing prejudices on something as natural as menstruation. Women cutting across social class face enormous discrimination when it comes to periods on the part of so-called learned religious scholars, families or obsolete patriarchal norms that reingineer guilt and shame to a unique human biological aspect.

R Balki’s Padman not only carries a powerful message to chuck out all prejudices about menstruation but also seek to educate the masses that there is no shame, guilt or ostracization for women to go through this cycle and in using sanitary pads. The film surprisingly starts at a slow pace but more than the narrative, it is the inherently strong message sent by the maker and the lead actors which successfully makes the cut. In short, the real star in Padman is the message conveyed to flush out social ostracization in celebrating a woman in her unique firm which makes the film a winner.

There is no denying the fact that in stark villages and even cities for that matter, women going through menstruation suffers a huge deal of discrimination and are regarded as dirty. Akshay Kumar plays the real-life hero, Arunachalam Muruganantham the man credited for making low-cost sanitary pads for women and quite surprisingly, the star underplays himself in this natural act and at no point, he tries to rise above the script. He slips easily into the role of the village bumpkin and large-hearted man with utmost ease shining in several scenes, helmed expertly by R Balki. As Lakshmikant Chauhan, Akshay Kumar portrays a sensitive man who loves his wife Gayatri dearly but is also sensitive to the cause of women.

I have always believed that among the young crop of actors, Radhika Apte is one of the finest we have in the Indian film industry and as Gayatri, she is simply terrific playing the conservative ‘village belle’ who is ashamed to use a healthy pad  at the cost of her health because ‘auraton ke liye sabse badi beemari hai sharam.’ As Gayatri, Radhika lends credence to the character and dons the submissive, naive women to perfection who has one argument to thwart her husband’s effort, ‘You don’t interfere in women’s matters.’ Given that she has relatively few scenes in the movie, Radhika holds her own forte and sparkles in several emotional scenes and particularly the ones where she breaks down.

Sonam Kapoor makes an entry post-interval where she plays the modern, chic and urban Delhi girl with perfection injecting freshness in the film. She simply owns every frame in donning a character so close to what she probably is in real life and does full justice to it. Sonam gets the best lines and gives a fitting reply to Akshay Kumar in every scene. It’s her best performance after the hard-hitting and memorable Neerja. So many of us will be fida over Sonam.

Stand out scenes:

There are several stand out scenes in Padman, particularly the ones where Akshay Kumar speaking in an accent-laden with broken English during the UN speech in America or the instance when he explains the sanitary pad machine to visitors through both sign language and broken English.  Secondly, the scene where he wears a pink female underwear, a risk that very few actors with his superstar status would be willing to take and attaching an animal blood pouch, not only touches hearts but packs a punch.

What’s Not!

The romance between Akshay Kumar and Sonam Kapoor was unnecessary and hard to imagine someone of the calibre of R. Balki to indulge in such a cliche. It is not only forced but works against the film’s spirit. Of course, there are several moments in the narration which is slow and tedious, particularly the start and post interval moments that make the flick, at times, look like a documentary.

Final words:

R. Balki’s Padman is an honest effort in portraying the sensitive issue of menstrual health and tackling shame or nurtured prejudices that women are subject to in our society. The director has successfully pulled all strings together in weaving the thought-provoking message, beautifully marrying reality and mass entertainment as well as extracting brilliant performances from its lead cast. Of course, the maker pays a fitting tribute to Amitabh Bachchan in the cameo where he not only plays himself but lends dignity and charm. The megastar is debonair personified. The cameo fits beautifully with the film’s theme. Padman is a must watch and should be lauded as a very honest effort in creating awareness, educate and break the taboo on this sensitive issue that afflicts women.




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She was…she is

Image source: Google/

She’s a toddler;

She was fully clad and a medical science student;

An independent woman.

Hailing from a village:

A homemaker;

A farmer’s wife;

She walked straight to her home;

She hummed a song;

She was raped, sexually assaulted and ignored the leered glances;

Lewd comments:

Of course!

She asked for it:

For how long, you will stand as a mute spectator!

Blame her for everything!

You spineless coward!

She is the one who should take care of the kitchen,

keep in-laws happy,

and be ready for sex at your will;

She is a good and dutiful wife;

In your books!

Show me who wrote this crap!

And, you worship her form in temples!

All you want is sacrifice!


Your stupid mentality!

Screw your rules of ‘good wives don’t kiss and tell’,

blame husband no matter how good and bad;

Keep walking!

For you chose to let her walk alone!

A long marriage for you is success!

Divorced or single woman is an open treasure trove;

Pity your intellect and empty brains;

Keep tweeting and sharing;

Happy Women’s Day!



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Book Review: Sonam Gupta hits you hard on the face

Book Review: I’m Not a Betrayer


“Is it worth the smile on my Dad’s face while I was taking ‘pheras’ around the holy fire and the way he put my palm in Jay’s hands? Was this pain worth having my feet washed in the ritual of religion?”

It has become a household name, Sonam Gupta who entered our lives on social media. But, Sonam Gupta is not just a name but the story of a common woman who faced the ire of a society, patriarchal in nature, pushing her to marry a stranger to fulfill vows and witnessed the massacre of her body every single night.  Isn’t it the story of millions of women across India?

The book, I’m Not a Betrayer packs a punch in narrating the story of Sonam Gupta who echoes untold stories of women whose marriages are fixed and toeing the line in society for the fear of label, suffering in silence. The son or husband is always the innocent one and it’s a big malaise that perpetuates society on the role of women.  After all, isn’t it what women are expected to do? The role playing of bending to the whims of the ‘better half’ whether it’s ‘forced sex’ or  accepting their destiny. Rebelling against rules will make the woman a bad and immoral girl.

The author addresses the issue on how women are treated in our society and male aggression used to shake the confidence of a woman. I’m Not a Betrayer is a short book that will shake your soul and paint a grim reality that most of us prefer to run away from. The violence perpetrated in the name of marriage and society on a woman that never betrayed and longed for love, to live a dignified life should make us stop and reflect. It’s time to say No to violence, be it verbal or physical against women, considered to be inferior to mankind by a sick society

“What about your body used as a means of pleasure for your husband without your permission…Who gave him the right to use your skin as a scrap of paper on which to write his story…Why does a husband become the sole owner of it, with or without your permission?”

It’s a small book but the author has injected emotions and power by efficiently depicting the world of Sonam Gupta on how fear is used to control a woman and it’s the biggest betrayal that takes us back to the dark age where religion is used as a tool for exploitation. I’m not a Betrayer is a book that everyone must read for it sends a subtle message yet powerful on our hypocrite society where voices are muzzled. We have grown up with flawed values on the role of a man and women. A must read for it’s a story of a woman that hits us hard in the face.





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#IAMPINK: Say I am no Fatakari with a punch


One Friday, PINK was a movie that released at the box office. Today, Today,#PINK is a mass movement and through the blog, I am narrating the stories of women who choose to hit back. Mayura Amarkant who blogs here shares her #IAMPINK story. It’s a daredevil act when she valiantly fought for human dignity is not something we should take for granted. No! Means! No.


Mayura lives in Mumbai with her husband and two kids. She is a successful mompreneur, blogger and a proponent of equality for women.  She is a Consultant & Lead Connector with

#IAMPINK: Say I am no Fatakari with a punch

On several occasions, I have been angry with the patriarchal system. Right from the time when we girls faced restrictions such as not being allowed to answer the phone after 7 pm or the time, I was asked not wear shorts. Reason: I became ‘Big’. Rules have always been different for girls. My Cinderella timing was 8 pm at night. Beyond this deadline, decent girls never stay outside home.

It worked differently for me. I never became a subdued or feminine girl. To the contrary, I turned out to be a brash, aggressive teenager painted with the label, ‘tom-boy.’ I hated this label to the core but never expressed it. Some mocked, scorned at me with the label, ‘Bhavani’ and others called me, ‘Fatakri’, as if they owned my identity and felt it was their birthright to judge me for my behavior. I often asked myself why I deserved such discriminatory behavior simply because I am a girl.

Ever dark lining has a silver cloud. Such tags have their own advantages. One of them is the perception that ‘Mayura is fearless and a solver of all problems on earth’. Many of my classmates and peers often ran to me seeking advice and took refuge in my care.

I have had several #PINK moments in life and in most of the cases I didn’t retaliate. I really don’t why I chose not to lash out or hit back at the perpetrator. My friend stopped talking to me when I was 11. She acted upon the ‘advice’ of her mom to stay away from me because I speak to boys. There was another instance when I was helping a friend to pass a message to her boyfriend. I was waiting outside the shop with the dude. Dad’s friend saw me and asking him why as his daughter, I was looking for love outside the family when there was an abundance of it at home. I don’t need to tell you the saga that later followed.

I still remember an incident at work when I wore a sari and red lipstick. As a 25-year-old, I made a joke with a female colleague telling that I was scared because I would be alone at home that night. A male colleague in the same bay strode up to me and said, “Madam, on one hand, you are wearing a sexy sari and red lipstick and on the other hand, you are proclaiming loud that you are alone at home tonight. Are you hinting something?” I stared back at him. I was aghast. It was the last time in my life that I ever sported red lipstick.


There have been several such incidents in my life and one of them was when I was fully clad in a sari and a senior colleague walked up to me. He simply remarked, “Madam, tumhi prakshobhaksh kapde ghalta, baghun kahitari hota.” (You dress provocatively and whenever I see, I get turned on). It was much later that I came to know about the complicated Marathi words. I complained to my boss. However, the senior colleague got away with a subtle warning and, of course, four-day paid leave. So much for the respect of female colleagues!

All my life I have heard statements like, 

Life is not like the movies, stay within your limits.

Stop flying, you don’t know what will happen after your marriage.

I pray you get a man who will allow you to work.

You are always hinting to men – it is never their fault.

Why are you so talkative? Women need to be quiet.

Such statements and several other incidents formed the building blocks of my personality. It made me stronger as a woman and never feared to take charge of situations. The one time when I surprised myself was when a friend was learning how to drive and tagged me along with her for ‘protection.’ We were out at a turning point when a truck came out of nowhere and the driver started to hurl abuses at us.

It was upsetting when he started to make sexist remarks about women and driving. The feeling of frustrating bottled up during all those years of being seen as an object of lust and desire whole at the same time being looked down upon by the same people. I never realized that I was feeding a volcano of emotions by staying quiet and which would erupt at any time.

I lost time. There was a voice inside me that snapped.

I got out of the car, shouted loudly and moved towards the truck. The truck driver kept the door open and was hollering away. I stretched out my left hand, grabbed his collar and pulled him down. He fell down with a thud. I caught hold of his collar again and punched him several times with my right hand. A bevy of crowd cheered and clapped. I didn’t realize how violent I became on the spur of the moment. Every single punch and a blow was directed at the same society that never fell short of shaming women.

When he closed his eyes and stopped retaliating, I stopped in my track. Adjusting my jeans and t-shirt, I walked away as if nothing happened. As I got back inside the car, my friend zoomed in another direction. We swore not to tell anyone about this incident.

It’s been 20 years. Today, in this #IAMPINK post, the whole world knows about it.

I have a message for everyone:

We are not objects of desire nor are we dumb fucks!

Don’t call me Bechari. I am not  Bhavani

Nor I am a tomboy.

I don’t want to be a man.

I am a woman.

I am proud to be who I am.

Let me be.

To celebrate my individuality as a human.

I love being a woman.

Don’t label us.

Don’t give us special privileges.

What we want is equality.

Is it too much to ask for?

Treat us the way you treat your boys.





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Ordinary women, extraordinary feat

Color splashed.

Brevity is an understatement.

Winning hearts.

Capturing minds.

Celebrating an identity.

Women of substance.

Men of valor.

Ordinary mortals.

Trudging the path of fire.

Quenching thirst of success.

Unlimited Hunger.

Champion doesn’t win every battle.

Some are lost at the finishing line.

Undying spirit makes men and women.

Battling prejudices.

Nepotism dying a silent death.

Our athletes.

Pride of a nation.

Fighting against all odds.

Ordinary women.

Dark horses.

Winning is not everything.

Triumphant spirit is.

Daughters are not second class citizens.

Proved on the battlefield.

Refused to play second fiddle.

Not born from the limbs of men.

Walking with the head high.

Stop treating your daughters with scorn.

Born to rule the world.

Worth gold.

The poem is a tribute to our athletes, P V Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, Lalita Babbar and Dipa Karmakar who fought against all odds and made India proud. It’s time to stop treated our women as inferior and decide their fate by marrying them off or make them cook food. Prophecies of doom, time to chuck off your myopic view on the real place of women. Their places are high on the pedestal.







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Book Review: Hinduism beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions


Book Review: Hinduism beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions

Author: Promod Puri

Released in: December 2015

Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Rating: Four stars



Religion is the opium of the people, Karl Marx said. Since times immemorial, various school of thoughts debated on the role religion plays in our lives to strengthen order and unify society rather than being a divisive force. Author Promod Puri’s book ‘Hinduism beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions’ doesn’t pose as mere religious tokenism but is a real, honest attempt to analyze our fundamental values and the relevance of Hindu culture in the modern age.

At one shot, the book serves as fodder to put things in the right perspective, lauding social values but at the same time questions obsolete rituals to redress the wrongs that continue to plague us since ages. It’s the need of the hour to not only assess the Hindu culture but revise the teachings, albeit, interpretations of things.

The book was sent to me by the author for review.


Why are there so many gods and goddesses in Hinduism? Why worship an idol? Is going to temple mandatory in the faith? What impact does the caste system have on Hindu society? Why do some rituals make perfect sense while others are so vague? What are the secular and diverse characters in Hinduism? What physics principles constitute the sound of Om? What is karma and its role in our day to day lives?


 The book explains the scientific and rational basis of the Hindu way of life in a very simple and concise manner. It’s precisely such kind of rationality which is lacking when obsolete beliefs and rituals are super imposed to make us believe in a far-fetched reality. Unfortunately, there are many myopic interpretations in the Hindu way of life that instil fears in believers and compels them to perform illogical rituals.

The fact is the true function of Hinduism is based on scientific logic and rationale. Promod Puri rightly put things in perspective, ‘The identity of Hinduism lies in its wide-open structure which allows and let develop diverse and distinct ideologies and practices…without any governing body or binding scriptures, studies in Hinduism and individual experiences.’

He speaks in the right manner to explore the system to enrich one’s spiritual state of being rather than being contented to follow as a matter of blind faith. Hinduism has always been a philosophy, embedded in our way of life.

Author Promod Puri doesn’t shy away in tapping on misplaced caste beliefs and blind ridden tradition that mars progress in the Hindu way of life. You name it, you get it… charlatans, bizarre rituals and fear factors. There are many self-claimed and fake gurus who have been twisting Hinduism for their own selfish benefit. The author assesses how such beliefs lead to the fanaticism that misinterprets the Hindu philosophy.  He valiantly refers to the dark practice of Sati and animal sacrifice which is still predominant in several quarters. The caste system is also highlighted where we discriminate on the basis of ascribed superiority where the untouchable are still discriminated or women are still not allowed to enter temples in some places. Speak about male bastion! It remains a blot on humanity. No wonder many of us are departing from the true essence of Vedas.

“Om Purnam is one of the most significant statements ever made anywhere on earth at any time. This small sutra contains the whole secret of the mystic approach towards life…It still remains the Everest of human consciousness.”


Ramayan and Mahabharata

 In the book, an interesting contrast is made between the most well-read and critiqued literature such as Mahabharata and Ramayana, who are as distinct from each other but they converge in form.

The author rightly explains how Mahabharata is most understood by the royalty and the educated class rather than the commoner. It holds significance for the Mahabharata is the product of the capitalist class who holds the belief that it’s the ultimate truth that cannot be questioned.

As the author says, ‘The absence of more Arjuns…in the dialogue along with the allegory of violent ambiance of a battlefield, constitute a puzzle in the esoteric philosophies of Gita.’

Ramayana remains a metaphorical study in the way Ram’s glory is chanted as ‘Maryada Purush’. His adventures are no doubt fascinating but he can  and should be questioned on being termed the perfect husband. It pretty sums up the agni pariksha modern women in our society are going through and how they are labeled as sluts. It whittles down to our understanding of the Ramayana in a patriarchal society.

Manu Smriti and Social reforms

 “By a girl, a young woman, or even by an aged one, nothing must be done independently, even in her own house.”

 “A virtuous woman who after the death of her husband constantly remains chaste, reaches heaven, though she has no son, just like those chaste men.”

 Promod Puri’s book assesses Manu Smriti’s law in the most intelligent way which is a blot to the pure and disciplined Hindu way of life.

Manu Smriti is wrong in all its forms where he pitches for human indignity and the scorn he holds for women, those at the lower ladder in the class stratum. He makes no bone about his prejudice for women in society where she shouldn’t have any say  not only on matters of households but of prime importance. Sadly, Manu Smriti obsolete views are echoed by so many men and women are still degraded, ripped off their dignity. The hatred for women and their treatment as second class citizens is still vibrant in a demeaning manner and fulfilling of blind patriarch obligations.

There have been social reformers such as Jyotirao Pule, Swami Vivekananda and of course, Dr B R Ambedkar who in his book ‘Annihilation of Caste’ who was at the forefront of the fight for social justice and equality. The book addresses the issue. Certainly, the social reformers represented the glorious moments in Hindu religion, seeking a redress of inequalities and questioning the dominant mentality of the upper class.

 What’s Not!

While Hinduism beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions is an eye opener and a   very practical guide to lead a healthy life based on the principle of equality, there are certain things that could have been better explored.  For instance, idol worship is presented by the author as one-to-one relationship and principle of non-duality,  should have been elaborated at length. In the same vein, the chapter about ontology where the author offers interesting insight on Nyaya Sutra on matters of validity in Hinduism lacks succinct explanation. It’s a very interesting philosophy that should have been debated in an expanding fashion and tapping its roots as well as relevance in today’s society.

Final Words

The book, Hinduism beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions is a must read which offers an objective criticism that goes beyond the Hindu way of life. It is well researched, objective and an insightful book that offers a healthy critique of the foundation of Hinduism, where often emphasis in laid on false pride, ego and un verified claim at times. Promod Puri’ explains arthas in a very competent and detailed manner and addresses the basic tenets of the rich Hindu philosophy.

Click on Amazon to buy the book. You can follow the author on Goodreads and his website.




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Flash fiction: Yo! Mamma! Atta country bar!! Cheap booze

Yo!! Friday is here. A quirky flash fiction your way and editing made easy the Grammarly way. Hope you enjoy the fun take on American cowboy movies.

Yo! Mamma! Atta country bar!!  Cheap booze

Yo!! Man!! Atta boy!! The bearded cowboy descended on the grey horse and trotted on his boot to find his way inside the cheap bar brimmed with country folks boozing. Cheap alcohol!! The old cowboy slammed the wooden door to nearly trip on a chap, serenaded by two young women. “Attaboy!! You think you some dude with some hot chicks.”

“Listen, you old fart!! Just fuck off and spend the remaining days of your life in peace before hell strikes on your ugly head. For sure, you don’t wanna me play the messenger of death.” Old cowboy grew wild and brandished his revolver on dude, “Son, you think I am some Yo! Mamma joke or what.”

Bang!! Gun shots firing. Drunkards running amok in all directions.  Despair call!! Bottles of cheap alcohols exploding in the air. Cowboy face is slammed and blood oozing. He fell down and is jolted by a violent blow.  He clumsily gets and pushes dude with all his force to hit him hard on the ear. “Oh! Man! Oh Man! He whips off his ear with old cowboy white beard before pushing him hard on the wooden table. Old man pulls his gun and slams a bottle of beer on the table, “Drink all at one go, Sunny boy or else, I’ll send you  to heaven with your mermaids. I ain’t guarantee romp there.”

Dude aka Sunny Boy gobbles the whole beer bottle at one go. Cowboy face is wide open and gapes at the impressive young dude who is as perfect with women as with his drink. “Friends?” old man shook his wrinkled hand, “What an ass you made yourself today, old cowboy,” the younger man replied.!”Don’t go by my torn off face. Mine is as good as yours,” old man broke into a cackle of laughter. Both men cheered and whistled at the Arab belly dancers hired solely for the Americans in this country bar. High fiving each other, the men trotted dance steps till the wee hours of the morning. It was worth the fight and gun shots in the name of friendship among the working class folks. In the name of cheap booze!