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#EXCLUSIVE I appeal to all the women to educate the less privileged about sanitary pads and menstruation- Sharib Hashmi

Shaarib Hashmi is an Indian Bollywood actor, known for Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire (2008), National Award-winning movie Filmistaan (2012) & Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012) opens up about his upcoming movie Phullu

Excerpts:

Menstruation is still a taboo in Indian society. What made you convinced to do a lead role?

 The film is aimed at spreading awareness on sanitary pads so there is nothing to be or feel ashamed or uncomfortable in talking about menstruation to anybody. I remember going to a local pharmacy in Mumbai two years ago to purchase sanitary napkins. When the chemist handed over the carefully wrapped product in a newspaper, I was taken aback. That was my first time buying the product, and I asked the chemist the reason behind this. He said, “Jo chalta aa raha hai, wo chalta aa raha hai (This has been going on forever). That is when I decided to make a film, if not on the same lines, but in a larger perspective.

Did you feel uneasy in the beginning of the shoot

The villagers in Mathura were initially against the subject, which openly dealt with a sensitive topic. Most of them didn’t even know about menstrual hygiene products. Even when we sat them down and spoke to them about the importance of menstrual hygiene, they refused to listen to us or use the sanitary pads that we distributed to them. We have incorporated their conversations and reactions in the film; irrespective of these slight glitches I was comfortable throughout the shoot

Trailer received good response on YouTube, what do you want to say?

 The response was overwhelming. It felt great to know that people are accepting and appreciating the hard work put up with so many likes and views since menstruation and the issues around it is labeled sensitive in our country to get such a response feels good.

Movie is said to be inspired from true life incidents, tell us something about it.

Though we were aware of Arunachalam Muruganantham’s story of making low-cost sanitary pads, we found out that there were many other people like him who have taken similar initiatives in places like Surat and particularly, Mathura. So we started talking to these people and got to know the intricacies, which we used in the film. This film is a fictional story. It has been shot in Koila Alipur in Mathura district.

Do you connect with the trauma of women now?

 Yes I definitely do especially more after the movie.

Such film doesn’t do well at box office, your comments.

 The major aim was to create awareness about sanitary hygiene and to break the taboo’s revolving around it, even if we are able to educate 1 woman about it and change a life it will be creditable and much more than earning in crores.

Do you believe that Phullu can be a trend setter in Indian Cinema?

We do not intend on being a trendsetter and we did not make ‘Phullu’ with that intention, like I said earlier the major aim is creating awareness and educating about importance of sanitary hygiene.

What message do you wish to give to all women of India?

 I appeal to all the women to educate the less privileged about sanitary pads and menstruation. Each one teach one at least; this way we will be able to increase the awareness. Mother’s should be talking about it to their sons as well so they understand that it’s a natural process and not a health problem. When they grow old they will treat the women around them with empathy.  I am taking my 10 years old son for the screening.

Will you support women in your family if they wish to open up on such issues?

 The movie is all about a man ‘Phullu’ supporting or rather urging his wife and other women in his family and village to maintain sanitary hygiene; if women in my family want to open up about it I will say ‘Go Ahead’.

What is your appeal to audience before release?

 I appeal to the audience to come and watch the film and share it with your friends and family if you like it. Since we have got ‘A’ from the honorable Censor Board; we have limited avenues to promote and market the film to the audiences and I strongly feel that our content is socially relevant when 70% of the women in the country do not use sanitary pads.

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