Won Oscar still there is long way to go.
A village in UP’s Hpur district suddenly came in limelight when it has been showcased on the world’s most glamorous and prestigious stage. A documentary based on the plight of menstruating female won Oscar. “ Period. End of sentence” got award for the best film in short subject category.
Producer Melissa Berton ended her Oscar acceptance speech with the impactful statement, “A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education!” The 26-minute short, an initiative of The Pad Project, has been backed by American students at Los Angeles’s Oakwood school who raised money for the film
Unlike the mainstream Hindi feature PADMAN starring Akshay kumar, the Indian inventor of the pad machine has only a cameo in the documentary shot. Arunachalam Muruganantham, who started making low cost sanitary pads despite being ostracized some years ago, said the Oscar for Period. End of Sentence, in the Documentary Short Subject category, will help create more awareness on menstruation in India. “I am surprised that the documentary won the hearts. But I am not getting carried away,” he told, when asked about the film’s victory at the Oscars. “This (menstruation) was a subject where many were afraid to lay hands because of taboos, particularly in the rural areas,” he said.
The women of Hapur district, around 60 km from New Delhi, are the real stars of the film here
From the first frame, where the filmmakers ask young, shy, giggling schoolgirls about menstruation, these guileless women fill the screen with their candour. Some confess about never having heard of a pad; another married woman confessed that she had to stop studying as changing her cloths all the time during menstruation was a hassle. Words like ‘illness’ and ‘problem’ are used by both men and women to describe what defines a period. However, the documentary makers have a solution.
“We learned that [menstruation is] very complex, and it’s a multi-layered issue — something that has been deeply rooted, a stigma deeply rooted, in Indian culture and society forever,” says Rayka Zehtabchi, director of Period. End of Sentence. Many women they interviewed for the documentary had initially never heard of pads before, or had and felt too embarrassed to buy them. Others couldn’t explain what a period was; they just knew it was bad. “When so few people talk about it, and there’s very little information around what this natural phenomenon really is, it starts to build fear around it,” she says.
Film roam in the small village of UP, where Period r still a taboo, Its lead are Sheh who is a young girl and has a dream to join Police force just to avoid marriage. “This was not easy task. First I have convinced my parents to work in a sanitary pad making unit and after that for film. But now everybody is happy.” Sneha told after win.
“We have received success today on a topic on which we can’t even talk about in public. Periods, which are looked down upon in the society, we have been able to work towards raising awareness about it. Our aim is not just to sell sanitary napkins. Our aim is to make people accept cleanliness during periods. We want all women to understand this and take care of their hygiene. If our voice reaches to a single girl, then we feel we have received success,” Suman another character from film added.
There is only so much that can be shown in 26 minutes. However, the seeds of change have been planted, and, over time, they too shall flourish.
Written By : Prakhya Srivastava