Pad Man’s Akshay Kumar: “I don’t want to be just another famous actor who died of old age”

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Akshay Kumar has gone through multiple transitions on his climb to the top.
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The actor is known for his comedic roles, but now he is trying something new.
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“Pad Man” tackles the true story of a man who helped bring affordable sanitary pads to women across India.
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The film talks openly about the importance of ensuring women have access to hygiene products.
Updated 08 February 2018
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Pad Man’s Akshay Kumar: “I don’t want to be just another famous actor who died of old age”

DUBAI: Akshay Kumar has gone through multiple transitions on his climb to becoming one of the top-three grossing stars in Bollywood history. Starting his career as an action star, and then finding even more success with comedy, Kumar now aspires for something greater with his work.
With his recent films “Airlift” (2016) and “Toilet” (2017), Kumar has highlighted social issues and important moments in India’s recent past. While those films found considerable success, his new film “Pad Man” seems poised to surpass them both, tackling the true story of a man who helped bring affordable sanitary pads to women across India.
What caused this change? “Because with power comes great responsibility,” Kumar tells Arab News. “I want to not only entertain people, but I want to help create the change that’s needed in our country. I have a platform, now I want to do good with it.”
Now 50-years-old, Kumar reflects more often on his potential legacy.
“I don’t want to be just another famous actor who died of old age. I want to be someone who made a difference and left a mark in people’s hearts.”
Early in his career, he admits to me, this was not the case.
“If I were to be honest, earlier the greed was for money.”
Since Kumar has made the shift towards trying to effect social change, acting fulfills him in a far different way than it did then.
““In fact, it’s even more than before now. Now that I think I have enough and more, there’s been a shift in greed for doing more fulfilling work — work that will speak for itself, work that will entertain, work that will be etched in people’s memory.”
Who is the ‘Pad Man?’
In 2012, Kumar’s wife Twinkle Khanna wrote a book called “The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad,” which featured a short story based on the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, who has been called a “superhero” for his role in improving menstrual hygiene across India. Muruganantham, who Kumar says is a wonderful man, “went to the ends of the earth to provide an affordable sanitary pad for his wife to make her life better, more comfortable and disease free, even though the pursuit cost him his marriage.
“I was incredibly intrigued by his story,” Kumar says, “which I think stands as the first reaction for the majority of people who hear about this film — purely because of the strong subject line, the issues and taboos relating to menstrual hygiene and the shocking data I was exposed to which just appalled me. I was so taken in by his story that I was onboard even before the script of Pad Man was written.”
Kumar wanted the film to be as palatable as possible for general audiences, something he credits the creative team for achieving.
“(I didn’t change) much really. The writers and director have done a great job with the script. Our only concern was to ensure and make a film that in no way makes anyone feel gross or uncomfortable. Yes, the subject is considered a taboo, but with all the trailers and songs by the time the audience reaches the theatres, they know what they are coming for.”
Kumar has since developed a personal relationship with Muruganantham, who it has been reported wanted only Kumar for the role.
“Arunachalam Muruganantham has not only got a cracking personality himself, but his story is just so intriguing, you can listen to his thoughts all day, his own one liners are clap-worthy, his opinions and views of seeing things a certain way is so pure and rare. For me he really is a real-life hero,” Kumar says.
With a string of socially-focused films under his belt, Kumar says he is not actively looking for the next.
“I’m not on a cause hunt. It just has so happened that these scripts have come my way and for whatever reasons managed to convince me to be a part of the project. Having said that, if I do get a script which is entertaining, along with highlighting a specific cause, why not.”
In the mean time, Kumar hopes that Pad Man can make a real difference in today’s India.
“If there was one thing that I had the power to change at the snap of my finger, it would definitely be making our country 100 percent sanitary pad wearing country. Hopefully, through this film, and with time, we manage to achieve this feat sooner than later.”


Prince Harry and Meghan start Aussie tour with baby gifts

Updated 16 October 2018
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Prince Harry and Meghan start Aussie tour with baby gifts

  • The royal couple announced their pregnancy after arriving in Sydney
  • Harry, 34, and Meghan, 37 have stepped to the fore in the last year as the British queen reduced her public appearances

SYDNEY: A beaming Duke and Duchess of Sussex thrilled thousands of fans outside the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday during their first meeting with the general public since the former Meghan Markle’s newly announced pregnancy.
Prince Harry and Meghan spent longer than the 20 minutes allocated in their schedule to speak to and shake hands with as many well-wishers as possible. Meghan, wearing a beige trench coat over a sleeveless cream dress by Australian designer Karen Gee, accepted cards and flowers from an enthusiastic crowd.
The news of the pregnancy was announced after the couple arrived in Sydney on Monday and 15 hours before their first public appearance. The two are on a 16-day tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand that their Kensington Palace staff said would not be altered despite confirmation that the American former actress is pregnant.
Among those taken by surprise by the announcement were their Sydney hosts, Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Lady Lynne Cosgrove. The governor-general, who represents Queen Elizabeth II, Australia’s head of state and Harry’s grandmother, sent staff to hastily buy a toy kangaroo with a joey in its pouch and a tiny pair of Australian sheep skin boots for their pregnant guest.
“Here’s your first gift for the nursery,” the governor-general told the couple during the official welcome at his official residence, Admiralty House.
“Thank you, that’s so sweet,” Meghan said as she received the toy.
The pregnancy has made front-page news across Australia.
The Sydney Morning Herald ran the headline: “A smooth ride to Sydney, but royals reveal bump on the way.” Darwin’s irreverent NT News chose the headline: “Ginger Pregs” — a play on a long-running Australian comic strip about a mischievous red-head boy called “Ginger Meggs.”
Outside the Opera House on Tuesday, Harry lingered longest with war widow Daphne Dunne, 98, whom he hugged as they chatted.
It was the third time that they had met since Harry’s eye caught sight of a Victoria Cross medal on her chest during a Sydney visit in 2015. She explained that her first husband Albert Chowne had been given the highest award in the British honors system after he died in Papua New Guinea in 1945.
This time, Meghan joined Harry in greeting the Dunne, who admires the prince’s work with veterans.
“Oh my goodness, is this Daphne?” Meghan asked.
Dunne later said Meghan told her “she had heard all about me; she’s so beautiful.”
“I wished them well with the baby on the way and said this is what Harry has been waiting for so long,” Dunne added.
Before Megan donned her coat, her tight-fitting dress barely revealed a bump as they were welcomed at the first event of the day at the Sydney Harbor-side mansion where the two are staying.
The main focus of that engagement was to meet Invictus Games representatives from the 18 countries competing in the event that starts Saturday. The sporting event, founded by Harry in 2014, gives sick and injured military personnel and veterans the opportunity to compete in sports such as wheelchair basketball.
Several of the representatives congratulated the couple on their baby news. Meghan replied: “Thank you so much. We are very excited.”
The couple later traveled by boat to Taronga Park Zoo where they opened a research center and met two 10-month old koalas that had been named after them.
They watched an indigenous dance company rehearse inside the Opera House before meeting the public.
The announcement of the pregnancy confirms weeks of speculation from royal watchers about why Meghan was not joining Harry on his Sydney Harbor Bridge climb set for Friday.
Harry, 34, and Meghan, 37 — along with Prince William and his wife, Kate, the duchess of Cambridge — have stepped to the fore in the last year as the 92-year-old queen slightly reduces her public schedule.