'I haven't given up on spreading awareness about toilet and female sanitation, and I won't give up on this either.'
Photograph: Akshay Kumar in PadMan.
Akshay Kumar seems happy with the response for PadMan.
"The idea behind making the movie was to break the taboo," he says.
Rajul Hegde listens in.
Do you think PadMan did what it was meant to do?
Critics have loved it, everybody has loved it.
But there are certain people, mostly in places like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Ghaziabad, who are hesitating to go for it.
What I noticed is that men are not allowing their wives to watch it.
I want to break that. The whole idea behind making the movie was to break the taboo.
I have made it with the intention that men should go and watch it with their families.
Men, especially, should watch it because there's nothing wrong in talking about it or helping their wives to go and buy pads.
It is a taboo in the US and UK also, but in India, 82 percent of the people think it is taboo. There is more awareness in other countries.
I am happy that people have liked PadMan.
The World Bank has taken it upon themselves to show the film in 642,000 villages across India, free of cost.
I just want people to come and watch the film.
We want to continue the promotions and keep the conversation on menstrual hygiene alive.
IMAGE: 'Placed a sanitary pad vending machine at Mumbai Central ST Bus Depot today, hoping to place more across the State and eventually hopefully the whole country,' Akshay tweeted with this picture. Photograph: Kind courtesy Akshay Kumar/Instagram.
With the success of Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and now Padman, do you think Bollywood should make films with social messages to create awareness?
Awareness can happen; people are slowly accepting such movies as well.
Toilet and sanitation awareness was an easier subject than menstruation.
There are a lot of villages, where people are not allowing their wives, daughters, mothers and sisters to go and watch the film.
Nobody is interested in listening to speeches or watching documentaries. They are more interested in knowing about a subject through films.
People watched Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and understood the importance of toilets, and not open defecation.
Entertainment is the best way to spread social messages.
On the personal front, do you feel you have done your bit?
This is not the end; I haven't given up on spreading awareness about toilet and female sanitation, and I won't give up on this either.
This is not about movies for me; these are things I feel for.
I held a pad for the first time two years ago, and that's how I thought it was important that people are aware.
The fact that women do not have enough resources to buy sanitary products is worrying.
Women have to face so much -- they are not allowed in temples, in their own kitchens! They are made to sleep in the verandah. We should get rid of this.
And periods are not taboo. We were shooting with a local guy; he ran away when he was asked to hold a pad! He said, 'Humare yahan paap ko haath nahi lagaate! (We don't touch sin!)'
This is the kind of mindset people have. We have to break it.
IMAGE: Divyendu Sharma, Akshay Kumar and Bhumi Pednekar in Toilet: Ek Prem Katha.
As an actor, has PadMan and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha impacted or transformed you?
As a human being, it has impacted me, I don't know about the acting part.
I do films for the cause of it, not for the acting part of it.
But as an actor, I need to do different kinds of films.
I don't want the media to label me or trap me in an image. Earlier, I was trapped with the image of an action hero and they wouldn't accept me differently.
I couldn't even experiment and change my image. That phase of my career impacted me deeply. That s why I constantly change my ways and the kind of films I do.
Do you think a subject on menstruation should be included in the education system to create awareness?
Yes. There is never any subject on menstruation. Even if there is, it's only for girls.
IMAGE: Director R Balki and Akshay Kumar take PadMan to Ahmedabad. Photograph: Kind courtesy Akshay Kumar/Instagram
Pakistan has banned PadMan.
We do not have any say in that. I can just request them to allow the people there to watch the film because it has an important message, and we have not shown anything wrong.
I am sure one day, the film will be shown in Pakistan.
Which is your next social message film?
I don't know (smiles). These two subjects were in my mind for some time so I did it.
Now, I want to do Houseful 4! It will be a three-month vacation!
I am doing a war movie, Kesari. I have never done a war movie in my life.
IMAGE: Akshay Kumar and Radhika Apte in PadMan.
Your next film Gold releases on August 15. Kangana Ranaut's Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi may also release the same day.
I don't believe in the word 'clash'. There will be two, three movies coming together because there are 180 films and 52 weeks.