Pad Man is a 2018 Indian Hindi-language comedy-drama film directed and written by R. Balki, featuring Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte in lead roles. Inspired by the life of social activist Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social entrepreneur from Tamil Nadu. Pad Man was released theatrically on February 9, 2018. The film grossed ₹207.73 crore (US$29 million) worldwide, becoming a major critical and moderate commercial success as well as the tenth highest-grossing Bollywood film of 2018. At 66th National Films Award, Pad Man received award for Best Film on Other Social Issues. Kumar’s performance in the film was critically praised, for which he received a Best Actor nomination at the 64th Filmfare Awards.
The story starts with the marriage of Lakshmikant “Laxmi” Chauhan (Akshay Kumar) and Gayatri (Radhika Apte). Laxmi is deeply in love with his wife and will do anything for her comfort and happiness. When Gayatri is temporarily banished from the household during her menstrual periods, Laxmi is caught unaware due to his lack of knowledge about the subject. He is worried seeing Gayatri using an unhygenic rag during her periods. Gayatri tells him he should not interfere in this feminine topic. Undeterred, Laxmi buys sanitary pads for his wife, which are rather costly. Gayatri tells him to return it, as using such costly napkins means cutting off milk expenses. Crestfallen, Laxmi goes to work, where a worker gets injured. He immediately applies a pad to the injury, despite the others referring to it as “impure”. The doctor lauds Laxmi’s quick thinking and says that it is the cleanest choice to stop bleeding. Excited, Laxmi buys some cotton, cloth, and glue and makes a temporary pad, which he thinks is a better replacement for the costly one.
Gayatri uses it but the pad fails in its function and she tells Laxmi to not interfere in women’s matters again. Laxmi again tries to make a pad, and gives it to a female medical student, who decides to help him out but is deterred by her friends. To add to his woes, his meeting with the student makes his wife think that he is having an affair. Laxmi tries to give his sister pads, which leads to embarrassment in front of her in-laws. Next, he tries it on himself by attaching a balloon filled with goat blood, which leads to him getting blood all over his trousers in public, resulting in humiliation. This act causes him to be branded “a man with loose morals” by the entire village. Gayatri’s brothers take her away and Laxmi decides to leave, pledging to fight the taboo surrounding menstruation.
After learning that sanitary pads use the more absorbent cellulose fibre rather than cotton, Laxmi goes to a college to gain knowledge about the materials used in sanitary napkins. In need of money and shelter, he works as a manservant in a professor’s house. The professor’s son introduces him to the Internet and helps him get information. The professor is baffled by Laxmi’s actions and shows him videos of pad-making machines worth millions to derail his ideas. It has the opposite effect: Laxmi is inspired by this to make his own pad-making machine. He borrows money and manages to make a good pad but has no one to test it. He ends up meeting Pari Walia (Sonam Kapoor), a modern, educated woman from the city, and supplies a pad to her. When he asks for feedback, she says that it’s like a normal pad. Laxmi’s joy knows no bounds and he calls Gayatri to give her the news. Gayatri gets upset at his obsession with menstruation, and her brother warns him to stay away.
Pari sees Laxmi’s potential and invites him to an innovation fair in Delhi. Laxmi’s invention is recognized as the “Life-Changing Innovation of the Year” and he shoots to fame but the villagers, on realizing the nature of his invention, insult him. Pari helps a dejected Laxmi sell his pads to rural women, who later join him in his venture. Laxmi and Pari travel from village to village, making low-cost pad-manufacturing machines, creating small pad-making factories, and providing rural women both jobs and pads for sale. He is invited to New York and gives a speech at UNICEF. Back home, he is awarded the Padmashri. Pari falls in love with him, which makes Laxmi conflicted as he has feelings for her too. However, she steps back for his happiness, with Laxmi telling her she helped make him a new man. Laxmi returns to a hero’s welcome in his village. The film ends with Laxmi and Gayatri finally reuniting, and Laxmi finding continued success with his endeavors.
Akshay Kumar as Laxmi Kant Chauhan
Sonam Kapoor as Pari Walia
Radhika Apte as Gayatri Chauhan
Jyoti Subhash as Subhadra Chauhan
Mrinmayee Godbole as Sonali Chauhan
Parul Chouhan as Jyoti Chauhan
Soumya Vyas as Aabha Chauhan
Yogesh Shreekant Pandey as Babloo Rajput
A. R. Rama as Hariya Rajvansh
Himika Bose as Sonali Kumari
Mrudul Satam as Tinku Varma
Riva Bubber as Asha Varma
Rakesh Chaturvedi as Professor Sanjeev Sharma
Wahib Kapadia as Manas Sharma
Rajesh Tiwari as Moneylender
Urmila Mahanta as Savitri Modi
Suneel Sinha as Professor Tejas Walia
Amitabh Bachchan as himself