I have mixed reactions when to comes to Padman. It´s a good subject that is weakly executed. Yes, the movie shines in some parts but it´s a serious let-down in many other parts.
Let´s start with the good. The movie touches upon a taboo subject and tries to remove any stigma around it. It´s a true story and an inspirational one at that. The movie can be watched with family without being awkward. Yes, it has removed the stigma attached to pads to some extent. It is a passable one-time watch.
What doesn´t work! I didn´t think that it was necessary for Akshay Kumar to be cast in the role of Padman. Yes, he is charming in some parts, but somehow ends up being annoying in most frames. The role doesn´t require great acting histrionics and any young actor could fit the bill. Having said that, it is appreciable that Mr.Kumar chose to take up this role without any inhibitions. Surely, his role as Padman will go down as one of those risks that he took in his acting career that paid off in the end. The pairing of Akshay Kumar and Radhika Apte is odd. They look like father and daughter especially in the starting wedding scene. Radhika Apte is decent in a role that is the antithesis of her in real life. Sonam Kapoor sticks out like a sore thumb with all the wrong expressions and body language. Be it her introductory Tabla performance scene or the overexcited school girl reactions like when she learns of Lakshmi aka Akshay Kumar´s Padmashri award! It seems like she was cast for one purpose alone – To play Lakshmi´s swooning fangirl. Well, she tried very hard is all I can say! The romantic track between Akshay Kumar and Sonam Kapoor comes across as awkward and forced. No laughing matter this! Instead, Sonam Kapoor´s character could have been perfect for highlighting the unique problems faced by urban women around menstruation. The similarities and contrasts between the rural and urban divide around menstruation could have been explored in-depth.
The more I see biopic movies like Padman, the more I wish that our film-makers adopted the documentary style of film-making. This style is perfect for serious subjects where the ultimate hero of the movie is not a Bollywood actor but the subject per se. Do these subjects sell only when there is mainstream actor (ageing nonetheless), young women as backdrops, a love story triangle and quadrangle and more cliche song-dance routines? Can´t Bollywood change the tiresome narrative here please?
Padman is not a bad movie. In fact, it is better than the last movie that I watched Kaalakaandi, a Saif Ali Khan starrer. That movie was like a headless chicken let all loose. There was no coherence and cohesiveness to the script or its narration. Kaalakandi was seriously bad. Padman has its saving grace as it has a clear sense of direction to its plot. R. Balki does his job.
Watch the movie for its message! Just don´t have too many cinematic expectations from it! Alas! Padman falls hard by being yet another Bollywood cliche despite the novel subject.
Rating: ** out of 5