All humans are equal and there’s no reason to be loud about one specific gender, says acclaimed filmmaker R. Balki, whose “Pad Man” — about a man focused on women’s menstrual hygiene — is releasing on Friday.
Whether it was “Paa” or “Ki & Ka”, Balki has always projected women characters as exceptionally strong, and without having the tag of a “woman-centric” film.
Asked if that is his way of celebrating feminism and gender equality, Balki told IANS: “I think the term gender equality is a cliche. People are equal. Whether it is rich or poor, black or white, man or woman, and people with different beliefs — we are equal.
Pointing out that a relationship is about the dynamics between two people, Balki said society tends to stereotype the roles. “We have preconceived notions” about how a man and a woman should behave.
“I don’t think about making a woman-centric film that way. Women are the progressive thinkers — some of them are outspoken, some are not, but in their heart, they all think progressively. I see no reason to project them as backward in a few films and then as progressive in other films.”
Citing an example, Balki, who turned from a successful ad man to director, said: “The other day, I was reading somewhere that a mother-in-law motivated and encouraged her daughter-in-law to finish higher education and pursue a career. So you see, these people exist. We stereotype a mother-in-law.”
Does he make an effort to project the man-woman equation as complementing each other?
“(It is) not exactly a conscious effort, but that is how I think. My films are a reflection of my thoughts. I want to capture things the way they are because that is the beauty of life,” he said.
“For instance, in ‘Pad Man’, Radhika (actress Radhika Apte) is playing a conservative housewife. But if you look closer, she is not a backward-thinking woman. She is just living in a society where even though she knows certain things are wrong, she cannot change the world.
“We tend to show people are fighting to come out of a situation, but no, that is not always true. We don’t have to find one wrong thing in a person, and highlight it. It does not have to be that loud all the time. It is about how we can complement each other to find a way to celebrate life… that’s the beauty.”
The narrative of “Pad Man” is based on the short story titled “The Sanitary Man of Sacred Land”, about the real-life hero Arunachalam Muruganantham, who invented a low-cost sanitary pad-making machine. The film heads to theater on February 9.