Akshay Kumar and Radhika Apte in PadMan.
Bollywood

Critics’ Verdict: ‘PadMan’ Carries a Repetitive but Worthy Message

Film: PadMan
Director: R Balki
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte

Excerpts from reviews of PadMan:

PadMan is as worthy, but it isn’t a particularly enjoyable film. It has tonal problems, because it is trying to appeal to many constituencies at the same time. But this is also the film which has to focus on the big male star for obvious reasons. We are left with the man of the movie, and the reason why this film has been made. Akshay gets fully into the role while trying to get in touch with the ‘feminine’ inside of him, with some nice strokes: he is the film, in a sense, and he is both earnest and likeable enough, even if we wish his women looked his age. And, even more crucially, that PadMan paid as much attention to its medium as its message.
Shubhra Gupta, The Indian Express
Knowing that this is the biopic of a real person who has been changed from Tamilian to north Indian in the script so that a north Indian megastar could play the part makes Padman an example of so much that is wrong with north Indian cinema and our society as a whole. The north-Indian-isation of a southerner is becoming somewhat of a routine practice in Bollywood – and Kumar its foremost practitioner. This is, of course, heartbreaking, because barring this troubling truth, Balki tells his story with efficiency and, by and large, with sensitivity. It is wonderful to see a mainstream film pulling menstruation out of the realm of whispers. Besides, Kumar is a delight to watch, never more so than when he absolutely kills a speech delivered by Chauhan at the United Nations. He has an irresistible screen presence, Radhika Apte is flawless playing his wife, and the packaging – pleasant music, Kausar Munir’s breezy lyrics that resonate with meaning – makes the first half in particular completely engrossing.
Anna MM Vetticad, FirstPost
The common element between Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and Pad Man is the star who depicts the socially conscious and self-sacrificing feminist hero. Akshay Kumar’s recent career turn towards message-oriented movies has seen him in the mould of a reformer. Despite the dull purposefulness of some of his recent roles, the movies manage to work because of Kumar’s ability to justify mansplaining as a duty towards womankind. (Sample Laxmikantism: “How can a man call himself a man if he cannot protect women?”) The most radical aspect of Pad Man is the fact that the movie exists in the first place. But in proceeding exactly as depicted by the trailer, Pad Man proves that sometimes, the message is far more important than the way in which it has been communicated.
Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in
Until the mid-way point, Pad Man has snatches of power and emotion. Some scenes feel like a labored public service announcement and the melodrama gets shrill in places but largely Balki and his co-writer Swanand Kirkire keep the story moving. Humour is used cleverly. And Akshay, with his toothy grin and determined earnestness, propels the narrative with the wonderful Radhika Apte providing strong support. Despite the broad strokes writing, this relationship grounds the narrative in an emotional reality. The locations in Madhya Pradesh are nicely captured by DOP P C Sreeram. There are lovely visuals of a line of neighboring homes, each with an identical verandah to which the women are banished when their period comes. And I enjoyed the title track by Amit Trivedi. But Pad Man wobbles precariously as it becomes more fiction than fact. The writing gets unforgivably lazy. Especially with the character of Sonam Kapoor. She gets the thankless role of Pari – a tabla player who becomes Lakshmi’s first client and cheerleader. We are told that her tabla skills are so good that ‘poore Madhya Pradesh ko hila diya’ but after that tabla is never mentioned again. The romantic angle between Lakshmi and Pari is the weakest link in the film – it’s both unnecessary and unconvincing.
Anupama Chopra, Film Companion