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R Balki: We started writing Pad Man much before Phullu

Referring to Phullu, the filmmaker said it is illegal to make a film on someone's life without the subject's permission.

Keyur Seta

R Balki’s Pad Man is based on Arunachalam Muruganantham, the entrepreneur who gained fame by making low-cost sanitary pads for menstruating women in his village.

But before the Akshay Kumar-starrer, which is set for release next weekend, Abhishek Saxena’s Phullu (2017) was based on the same theme. That film saw Sharib Hashmi play a man who takes it upon himself to make pads for the women around him. 

At a media interaction, Balki claimed that no one had made a film on the subject of sanitary pads. “I took this chance because there has been no film made on pads so far in the world and I will never get a chance to make a film on it again," he claimed. "Who will make another Pad Man? In the world there hasn’t been a single film, a mainstream commercial film, based on menstrual hygiene pads.” 

When it was pointed out to him that Phullu was released before Pad Man, he said, “We actually started this way before. We didn’t know there was any film like that. We had started writing the script much earlier. We didn’t even know this film. It just came and went. I have not seen the film.

"But when we did it, the only thing that was done on this particular subject was the documentary on Murugananthan by BBC and Al-Jazeera. Nobody else had touched [the subject]. And all the studios in the world had told us that nobody had done this.”

Balki went on to say that it is illegal to make a film on someone’s life without taking the person concerned into confidence. “This is the first film that is officially based on Murugananthan’s story, for which he has given the rights. Anybody else who has done a film on this thing has done it illegally. You cannot do it without his permission,” the adman-turned-director said. 

Also starring Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor, Pad Man will be released on 9 February. Click here to predict the film's box-office performance.