Twinkle Khanna, the writer who isn't afraid to go where no woman has ever gone Image: Solaris
Twinkle Khanna is fast turning out to be a favourite feminist icon in literature circles. Without trying hard, without doling out cultural studies philosophies, without sounding depressed like Sylvia Plath. Her second book of short stories, The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad, is proof of all that and more. Now, her 150-page story, The Sanitary Man from a Sacred Land, is all set to be adapted into a film titled Padman that, obviously, stars husband Akshay Kumar in the lead.
Who is Padman, you ask? A man who wanted to change things for the better for women. And not in the least bit cliched way. This story is based on Arunachalam Muruganantham, a man who invented a low-cost sanitary pad making machine. #Truestory, like they say.
Twinkle's protagonist in the book is a humble villager named Prabhash Kewat aka Bablu who has a decent job, a lovely wife and a doting mother. The story, divided into 27 chapters, delves into Bablu's obsession with sanitary napkins. It's a women-centric book, after all.
It all starts when he decides to buy his wife a pack of sanitary pads as a gift and realises they cost a bomb. Bablu — eager to find a cheaper alternative — begins a mission. He decides to create pads for his wife. The wife, naturally, cannot understand this obsession. He's soon shunned by the women in his life and ridiculed by the entire village. Bablu doesn't stop, though. He teams up with a college professor and creates four machines to churn out good quality, affordable pads. He takes his game a notch up by hiring village women to handle these machines.
Bablu is a man who takes women's emancipation seriously — he isn't afraid to wear a pad to grasp the issues. Twinkle's win, as the writer of the story, is in the fact that her protagonist is revolutionary without being preachy. Only time will tell whether Padman, to be directed by R Balki, can translate Twinkle's signature wit so palpable in the narrative.