Phullu is one of those films which get made purely for the grit of their makers, as the stories they are trying to tell don’t always sit fit with the storytellers of the tinsel town. The film, set in the Uttar Pradesh of today, plagued with poverty and pollution, strikes a chord with the viewers as far as the message is concerned. Given that it is a film most of you would not have even heard about, the film does a decent job of spreading its message – awareness about mensuration.
The film revolves around the protagonist Phullu and his family as he tries to bring about a menstrual health awareness in his part of the country, where most women when it comes to their monthlies depend on home remedies – and – home methods. He is the ‘berozgaar’ of the village who to the ease and luxury of the ladies around him (he is surrounded by a sister, a mother and later, a wife, along with other women of the village) can be asked anything of – from running errands to get daily items to unmentionables of every woman’s life – Phullu does it all.
Even then, he is completely unaware about a very important aspect of a woman’s life – her mensuration. Calling it the ‘janani rog’ (female disease), Phullu gets educated all about mensuration by a doctor, where to his horrors he finds about the infections that homegrown methods of tackling mensuration bring with it. And there, he decides what his mission of life would be – making low-cost sanitary napkins available to the woman of his village, a feat which is not easy and not supported by anyone, but his wife.
Now, this is the movie which is made by all good intentions and sincerity, an attempt to in fact educate the people about menstrual health – and the director Abhishek Saxena, as well as the script writer Shaheen Iqbal, should be lauded for their effort of staying true to their context. The film does not seem out of frame, with a true UP landscape spread before us. However, the emotional monologues and the dramatic score does none to impress. It does not help that the protagonist, played by Sharib Ali Hashmi, actually has not one one on one moment with the problem, except once in the full movie with cotton pieces. Perhaps the film is more about the complete ignorance of the characters as compared to their inaccessibility.
Most of us by now have heard of the Akshay Kumar starrer Padman which is to be released somewhere in 2018. The movie, which shall be a fictionalised account of the very real story of Arunachalam Muruganantham, maybe will tell a better (or at least better viewed and certainly better financed) story of the lives of women who battle with the inaccessibility to better sanitary options that plague our society even today. Till then, we make do with this genuine effort called Phullu.
— Preeti Sharma Menon (@PreetiSMenon) June 15, 2017