Ever heard a boy having a period? Well, director Mozez Singh makes you think about the societal taboos around menstruation from a boy's perspective with "First Period" -- a short film that is supported by entrepreneur-producer Twinkle Khanna. He says that when celebrities talk about certain issues, people pay attention and take note.
"I salute Akshay Kumar and Twinkle for making a film about this and for backing this issue with their star power and credibility. When big personalities like them talk about it, it makes all the difference because people sit up and pay attention," Singh told IANS in an email interview.
"Pad Man", written and directed by R. Balki, featured Akshay as Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social activist from Tamil Nadu who introduced low-cost sanitary pads. The film was based on a short story, "The Sanitary Man of Sacred Land", in Twinkle Khanna's book "The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad".
"First Period", released on World Menstruation Day on May 26, takes a look at the menstrual cycle from an interesting, unique and surreal new perspective.
Singh skilfully deals with the delicate subject of the first period day from a boy's viewpoint and shows a world where women don't exist, and where the tables are flipped.
Twinkle, who has seen the film, was impressed with the director's treatment of the subject and has decided to come forward and support his effort.
"Twinkle was the first person I showed the film to and she instantly agreed to lend her support because she felt the film was emphatic and made the right point. She really believes in the cause and is willing to help as long as the project is credible, which my film is," he said.
"First Period" is produced and supported by the NGO Dasra and MH Alliance India, and written by Ishani Banerji.
Talking about the inspiration for the film, Singh said: "I was approached by the NGO Dasra to make this film. They are very committed to the cause of menstrual hygiene and asked me to come up with a script where men would be involved in the conversation, because only then would it become a universal conversation and not a conversation about shame and whispers amongst women only.
"So my scriptwriter Ishani Banerji and I brainstormed and we came up with a concept where there are no women and where men get periods and how amazingly and efficiently they deal with it; and then Ishani wrote the script. We wanted to make a surreal film that jolts you into thinking about the very serious issues related to menstrual hygiene," he said.
Singh, whose debut feature film "Zubaan" was released in 2016 to much critical acclaim, is currently developing his next feature film as well as a series for a leading digital platform.
So what challenges and shocking revelations did he witness during the making of "First Period"?
"I was given a lot of data to read and study so that I could understand the issue at hand and become sensitised to it. I was stunned by all the problems associated with menstrual hygiene. The shame, the stigma, the environmental and health issues. The problem is massive and it needs to be addressed urgently and effectively," he said.
"I am glad this topic is in the limelight," he added.
(Nivedita can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)