Review: India confronts the last female taboo in this Oscar-winning documentary

Updated 02 March 2019

Review: India confronts the last female taboo in this Oscar-winning documentary

CHENNAI: Despite its progress in science, business and technology, India can still be frighteningly superstitious and biased as the recent struggle of women of menstruating age for the right to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala showed. The issue divided the nation and resulted in a high court hearing.

R. Balki’s 2018 film “Pad Man,” with Akshay Kumar, shows how this age-old taboo has created a culture of discrimination and resulted in serious health issues for women and girls. Kumar plays Arunachalam Muruganantham, an Indian entrepreneur spearheading a campaign to provide access to sanitary napkins.

Iranian-American filmmaker Rayka Zehtabchi’s “Period. End of Sentence,” which won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject, looks at the humiliation and hurt Indian women face during their menstrual cycle.

Produced by Melissa Berton and now streaming on Netflix, “Period” is a brutally fascinating film. Set in Hapur, near New Delhi, the documentary explores the myths, social conditioning and oppression prevalent for centuries.

This social stigma is not confined to rural India, but is also common in cities and among the educated classes. The documentary shows girls giggling or looking horrified at the mention of periods. Meanwhile, village elders describe menstruation as “bad blood that sullies women, a disease that should be silently wiped off with pieces of dirty, discarded rags.”

When a low-cost sanitary vending machine is installed in Hapur, a group of women begin promoting the product in a door-to-door campaign. It is a revolution of sorts with affordable products replacing those made by large multinationals, whose high cost has been an obstacle to wider use.

The film also reveals how the new machine opens up an economic opportunity for the village women, giving them a sense of freedom and identity.

Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra considers role in Arabic films

Updated 03 August 2020

Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra considers role in Arabic films

DUBAI: Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas revealed in an interview with Africa News this week that she would “love to” star in Arabic films.

“I just don’t speak the language,” said Chopra Jonas. “I think that I would love to be a part of the film industry anywhere. I love my job and I would learn a new language if I have to.”

The 38-year-old producer, who has a couple of Hollywood flicks under her belt, said she is working on an unscripted series with her husband, the American singer and songwriter Nick Jonas.

“I am developing a show with my husband which is for Amazon. It is based on the Indian tradition of sangeet (a music-filled pre-marriage ceremony),” she said.


Felt like wearing a saree. So I did...At home. Miss everyone. @nickjonas

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She is also working on a new series for Amazon, produced by the Russo brothers, and a “buddy comedy” with actress Mindy Kaling.

The UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and the former Miss World has been using her social media platforms over the past few months to raise awareness about the coronavirus pandemic.



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Chopra Jonas, who started her career 20 years ago, has hosted an Instagram session with doctors and experts from the World Health Organization who answered frequently asked questions about the virus.