Pad Man: Film hopes to tackle taboo of menstruation in India

Akshay Kumar plays Arunachalam Muruganatham in the film. Credit: Sony Pictures Recording

The tale of an entrepreneur who has revolutionised the lives of thousands of women in India with a machine which produces low cost sanitary towels, helping to reduced the very significant stigma surrounding women's periods in rural parts of the country.

When Arunachalam Muruganatham discovered his wife, Shanthi, collecting filthy rags and newspapers to use during her period due to the high cost of sanitary products, he felt compelled to act, eventually creating a machine which could make them cheaply.

His invention was more successful than even he could have hoped, and to date has transformed the lives of thousands of women worldwide, as well as inspiring the film Pad Man.

"Everything I started for my wife, now it has gone global," he explained.

In India where Mr Muruganatham is from, only 12% of women have access to affordable sanitary pads, and instead many use, rags, leaves and straw.

Not only this, but the topic of menstruation is a huge taboo in the country, something producer Twinkle Khanna hopes the film will address.

Women use the machines to create sanitary products. Credit: ITV News

On Thursday, the actress-turned-campaigner took her message to Oxford University, saying the film had "already begun the conversation".

Ms Khanna told how when filming, many of the actors would not come back after they were ask to hold sanitary pads, as they were "mortified".

Producer Twinkel Khanna hopes the film will tackle the taboo. Credit: ITV News

It is not only in India that Mr Muruganatham's machine has helped women, it is also now used in parts of Africa - where one in 10 girls miss school or drop out due to their periods - and other countries worldwide.

But so called "period poverty" is not just a problem in poorer countries, with an estimated one in 10 girls and women in the UK aged 14-21 unable to afford sanitary products.

"If girls don't have access to pads they will miss school, and if they miss school then they don't complete their education, so they are held back," explained campaigner Manjit Gill.

Missing school due to periods holds girls back, campaigner Manjit Gill explains. Credit: ITV News

Tackling taboos is often made easier by compelling, engaging stories, and it is hoped that that is what the new film will achieve.

  • Twinkle Khanna will be doing a Facebook live with ITV News on Friday at 12pm.