Interview Hindi

Pad Man not the first film on Arunachalam Muruganantham, I-Pad was made in 2015


Co-producer of I-Pad, Amit Abhyankar, shares how they made a film on Muruganantham which was screened at the NFDC Film Bazaar in 2015. 

Arunachalam Muruganantham

Keyur Seta

During a recent group interaction with the media, director R Balki claimed that Pad Man is the first film to be based on the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham — the man known for inventing a machine to produce hygienic and low-cost sanitary napkins. “This is the first film that is officially based on Murugananthan’s story, for which he has given the rights,” Balki had said. 

However, Amit Rai (of Road To Sangam, 2010 fame) directed a film on Muruganantham's feat much earlier. Titled I-Pad, it was co-produced by Amit Abhyankar and Monish Sekhri. 

Speaking exclusively with Cinestaan.com, Abhyankar recalls how he met Muruganantham. “I had approached him in 2012-2013. I then met him in Coimbatore in 2013. I had taken a written permission from him via email. Then me and my research team went to Coimbatore and he had shared his story and data with me. Before starting the film, I had informed him,” he said. 

I-Pad was screened at the NFDC Film Bazaar in 2015. “We completed the film and showed it in NFDC Film Bazaar in work-in-progress lab in 2015,” he added. The film had theatre actor Sudhir Nema play the lead, and also starred Bijay Mishra. 

The makers of I-Pad informed the producers of Pad Man when they came to know about the film but they got no reply.

The co-producer doesn’t wish to battle with the makers of Pad Man as he is happy that the message is being spread. “Finally, it’s Muruganantham’s call. It’s fair enough. I am happy that Akshay Kumar did it. With him doing in, the issue will get more awareness,” he said. 

But Balki claiming that Pad Man is the first film based on Muruganantham’s life is their only area of concern. “That is the only thing I am complaining about. I have no complains or regrets about whatever has happened. What I feel is that we should, at least, be acknowledged. We initiated and completed the film in 2015. My objection is only for this single thing,” Abhyankar confessed. 

He believes that it is obvious for filmmakers to find Muruganantham’s story interesting. “Ever since he did the Ted Talk in around 2012-2013, I am sure a lot of people found a film’s story in it. His story itself is so dramatic,” he said. 

Hence, besides him, a few others had approached Muruganantham for a biopic. In fact, Amit Rai had first approached Muruganantham separately. “Amit Rai had independently met Muruganantham, who told him that even I had met him. I and Amit Rai spoke and we realized that as we both wish to make it, let’s collaborate. We thought why should we make two different projects on the same subject? We thought it’s better to join hands and come together,” Abhyankar explained.

He also named the others who were interested in documenting Muruganantham's life, “Similarly, a girl called Parvathy Menon had also approached him a day before I approached him. Another filmmaker from US had started a crowd funding project on Muruganantham’s life called The Unusual Inventor. Journalist-turned-script writer Prateek Kolhe had approached Muruganantham with a producer. They said even they wanted to do (it) but after knowing that we are also making, they decided to shelve.” 

He never wished to demand eclusivity simply because he was impressed with Muruganantham. “I have understood and liked Muruganantham. He only believes in doing his own work. He told me, if you want to make a film on me, go ahead; I won’t stop you. He had said the same to Rai,” he said. “Just like he said this to us, he could have said this to others as well.”

Abhyankar explains that they had approached the producers of Pad Man for just one reason. “Our only reason to intimate them was that they shouldn’t claim exclusivity. We are happy that a star like Akshay is doing a film on this subject,” he said.