[Film] How “Pad Man” Fought for Women’s Health and Dignity (Director R. Balki)

I wrote this article in Japanese and translated it into English using ChatGPT. I also used ChatGPT to create the English article title. I did my best to correct any translation mistakes, but please let me know if you find any errors. By the way, I did not use ChatGPT when writing the Japanese article. The entire article was written from scratch by me, Saikawa Goto.



Movies and books covered in this article

I will write an article about this movie/book

Three takeaways from this article

  1. The movie is set in 2001, but the world portrayed is filled with prejudice and the harsh reality that women face.
  2. The protagonist takes action for his wife, but she ends up rejecting him.
  3. It showcases the incredible dedication to solving social issues, even if it means giving up the possibility of becoming a millionaire.

It’s an epic story that features even the “United Nations” in the end and you would understand his greatness when you see the film.

Self-introduction article

Please refer to the self-introduction article above to learn about the person writing this article. Be sure to check out the Kindle book linked below as well.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

The quotes used in this article are based on notes taken at the movie theater from movies in Japanese and are not direct quotes from the foreign language original movies, even if they exist.

Based on the true story of an Indian man who challenged himself to develop “sanitary napkins,” this movie will make us think about “living for someone else”

Even if you watch it without knowing anything, it is a very interesting work, but the greatest strength of this work is that it is based on a true story.

The 2 hour and 20 minute movie is almost entirely about “just” developing sanitary napkins. But the scale of this story is so large that even the “United Nations” eventually makes an appearance.

Furthermore I was surprised to learn that the setting of this story was in 2001. First, let me explain the “outdated feeling” in this movie.

I was Shocked to Learn that the Setting of This Story is “India in 2001”

The story takes place in India in 2001, which is only about 20 years ago, but it feels extremely outdated. This surprised me.

The story takes place in probably rural India. It is hard to imagine that the situation is the same in the city, but even if I was talking about the countryside, it would still be surprising. After all, back in 2001, Indian women had to spend 5 days “outside of their homes” during their menstrual period.

In India, menstruation was called “uncleanness” and was taboo. There was an atmosphere of hesitation to even bring up the subject, and women who were menstruating had no choice but to leave the building anyway, with or without saying anything, and wait for the time to pass.

Even if we allow for the idea of “having to spend time outside,” the fact that women have had to use dirty cloths to wipe the blood is unacceptable. In fact, it’s shocking that they sometimes used things like ash, sand, or dry leaves to absorb the menstrual blood.

The protagonist of this movie, Lakshmi (based on a real person named Muruganantham, but with a different name in the movie), was worried that his wife was using dirty cloth during her period. When he consulted a doctor, he learned that using dirty cloth or ash could increase the risk of disease and even infertility.

After realizing the situation, Lakshmi bought sanitary napkins at a pharmacy, but they cost 55 rupees and were too expensive for the average person, so much so that his wife asked him to return it because it was too expensive.

This is the setting of the movie. And Lakshmi challenged the development of “affordable and accessible sanitary napkins,” overcoming fierce opposition, and as the Japanese subtitle suggests, “Saved 500 million women.”

Even today, some ideas that are only totally irrational would take hold due to superstition and faith. While watching this movie, I remembered a story I had heard or read somewhere before about Africa. I forget when it was, but it was a story about a seminar on how to use condoms in a country where AIDS was prevalent.

Since it was not possible to actually demonstrate how to put on a condom at the seminar, they explained how to use it by putting it on a finger. However, the people who attended the seminar interpreted it as if it were some kind of magic, believing that “if we put it on our finger, we won’t get AIDS,” and as a result, the seminar was completely meaningless. From our perspective, it may seem like a funny story, but it just shows how different people’s perspectives can be on things.

Of course, this kind of thing is not just a problem in developing countries. For example, the more advanced a country is, the more various dieting methods would come and go every day. If you think about it calmly, there are no other dieting methods than “eating properly and exercising properly.” However, everyone wants to believe that “there must be a way to lose weight easily” and therefore they try various non-conventional methods, which probably lead to failure.

To me, there is not much difference between “treating menstruation as ‘uncleanness’ and handling it carelessly” and “trying various dieting methods indiscriminately.” That’s why I believe that just thinking “India is so behind” doesn’t make any sense.

There are many situations where what one considers “obvious” is not at all obvious from the outside. It is difficult to be objective when it comes to oneself, but it might be a good idea to take a step back and be mindful of one’s behavior as a result of watching this movie.

The Protagonist’s “Action” and “Certain Decision” are Tremendous

Now, as mentioned earlier, Lakshmi decided to develop sanitary napkins for his wife.

However, this caused a big uproar in the countryside.

From the start, “menstruation” was considered “uncleanness”, or a taboo. Even among women, it was unheard of for men to mention menstruation. Moreover, Lakshmi not only talks about it but also decides to make sanitary napkins. Since Lakshmi cannot test the napkins himself, he has had to ask someone else to use them.

At first, he asked his wife, but she used them a few times and then stopped. It was because the quality wasn’t good, as he had just started making them. Knowing this, Lakshmi worked on improving the napkins, but when he asked his wife to use them again, she refused, saying “it’s embarrassing to talk about menstruation, so please don’t involve me in that anymore.”

However, Lakshmi did not give up. He talked to a female medical student and gave homemade napkins to a neighborhood girl who experienced her first period, but his actions spread as rumors and he was considered a “crazy person.”

Nevertheless, Lakshmi never gave up and ended up pursuing the path of making napkins alone, separated from his village and wife. His tremendous drive is truly remarkable. Despite starting for his wife, he did not stop his progress even if his wife distanced herself, which is extraordinary.

And his greatness is not just in his action-oriented nature.

Although this article does not go into detail, one day a choice appeared before him that could make him a millionaire. However, he did not choose the path to become financially rich, but rather made a choice that he believed was more right.

And as a result, 500 million women were saved.

This number “500 million” represents the female population of India. When you think about it, in fact, it can be said that what Lakshmi saved goes beyond “500 million” women. This is because the system he created has the potential to save not only “women who cannot afford sanitary napkins for economic reasons,” but also “women who cannot be independent due to lack of work,” and of course, it is effective outside of India. It would be no wonder that the United Nations appears in the movie when watching it.

One can’t help but feel that there was an extraordinary person.

Reflect on “How to Live” from the Protagonist’s Way of Life

As mentioned earlier, Lakshmi had the potential to become a millionaire. Some may feel that it was a waste for him to make a decision that did not lead to that.

However, as time went on, Lakshmi seemed to be more lively and enjoying life more after giving up the possibility of becoming a millionaire. I think I can understand this feeling as well.

I’m not particularly interested in what can be achieved by having a lot of money. Of course, I want enough money to live comfortably, but even if I had more, I probably wouldn’t have many ways to use it. In fact, I might not even be able to live peacefully, as I would worry about the possibility of my money being robbed.

Likewise, Lakshmi probably wasn’t interested in living in a mansion, eating fancy food, or going on luxurious trips. He would have found it more enjoyable to “change the world.” He could dream of a different world from yesterday through his own efforts.

In the movie, there is a scene where Lakshmi appears on the cover of magazines like “New York Times” and “LIFE.” It can be said that his challenge is being recognized by the world. However, even such “great recognition” was probably not a significant event for Lakshmi.

Lakshmi’s concern must have been centered on this one thing more than anything: helping people in difficult circumstances.

I remember reading a book before about the job situation for young people in Europe and America. It was written that young people who reject job offers from big companies and jump into NPOs are increasing. I think it’s evidence that there are more people like Lakshmi who want to use their abilities to solve social problems rather than making money.

In some cases, having money can make things possible and can even change the world for the better. However, there are many things in the world that cannot be achieved even with money if there is no passion. It can be said that Lakshmi is someone who has changed the world with their passion.

His way of life seems ideal if it is possible.


There must be many people in the world who are still suffering from various prejudices that we are not aware of.

I may not have the confidence to live like Lakshmi, but I can make an effort to learn and share his story. Knowing about any problem is the first step towards addressing it, and it’s also important to play a role in “communicating it” to someone else.

In the future, when I learn about anecdotes of “amazing people” or various problems existing around the world, I would like to make an effort to share them like this.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

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