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Akshay Kumar wasn't Twinkle Khanna's first choice for Pad Man

The Pad Man co-producer, however, refused to reveal whom she had originally envisaged in the role.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Mayur Lookhar

Twinkle Khanna has ended her long hiatus from the film industry with Pad Man. She returns not as an actress but as co-producer of a film that stars her husband Akshay Kumar.

Thus it was a sight to see the couple share the stage for the film's promotion. Akshay Kumar, Khanna and lead actress Radhika Apte were joined by the producers and music director Amit Trivedi at the event.

The conversations being short, the notable disclosure was how Akshay Kumar was not his wife's first choice for the film.

Pad Man is based on the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social entrepreneur who invented low-cost sanitary napkins for women who cannot afford to buy the napkins sold by multinational companies.

“I did not think of him [Akshay Kumar]," Khanna told the assembled journalists. "It was director R Balki who asked me to convince him. He is a star. When someone is idolized and he wears a pad, people will listen to him. I don’t think anyone else could have played it."

Balki kept it short, saying it was a no-brainer for him that Akshay Kumar would be his leading man.

Khanna hoped Pad Man would have the same impact on women's hygiene and the taboos arounding discussing the subject as Akshay Kumar's Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (2017) had on the issue of open defecation.

Toilet: Ek Prem Katha drew applause from none other than noted American entrepreneur Bill Gates, who added the film in his list of best moments of 2017.

Expectedly, Akshay Kumar was thrilled with the global appreciation. “I was on the stage [of an awards event] when I saw this message," he said. "It is amazing when your work gets appreciated there. However, I hope things improve in our country after watching such films.

"A year and a half ago, we had about 54% of people defecating in the open. Now it has come down to around 34%. So things are moving. Similarly. I hope there is a change with Pad Man, too. I believe about 82% of women in India do not use sanitary pads. I hope it changes after this film.”

Like Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Twinkle Khanna and Akshay Kumar are hoping Pad Man reaches a wider audience. "We have spoken to various ministries that this film should be screened in schools," the wife said. "They should be able to tell their parents that they want sanitary pads.” 

Akshay Kumar felt that the positive response to the trailer has already brought about a change in attitude. Recalling an incident, he said, “Recently, I saw about 7-8 boys standing near my vanity van talking about the film and sanitary pads. I have never seen such a thing in 50 years of my life. I would like to ask the [media] men present in the hall today, how many of you have held a sanitary pad in your hand?”

Menstruation has been a hotbed of social taboos over centuries, across continents. Talking about it, the star added, “I’ve come across stories where a girl is not allowed to enter the kitchen. You can’t make pickles, papad, god knows what else. There are many superstitions. I hope this film will expose all such things.”

Pad Man is set to be released on 26 January 2018, along with Neeraj Pandey's Aiyaary. Click here to try and predict the film's run at the box office.