Director: Abhishek Saxena
Cast: Sharib Hashmi, Jyotii Sethi, Inaamulhaq
With Bollywood currently on an Operation Clean-up Drive, this is the first in the lot of upcoming films that deal with sanitation, toilet building and menstrual hygiene. Akshay Kumar is in the forefront of the movement with the upcoming big-budgeted, 'Toilet: Ek Prem Katha' and 'Padman'.
Phullu can best be described as a 'chhota Padman'. Apart from Coimbatore-based Arunachalam Murugamatham, better known as the Menstrual Man of India, there were other small-time social entrepreneurs who also made low-cost sanitary pads and created awareness about a taboo subject. Phullu (Sharib Hashmi, best remembered from Nitin Kakar's 2014 film, 'Filmistaan') narrates the tale of one such individual, who was keen to educate rural women about the importance of menstrual hygiene.
Phullu is a village simpleton or rather a good-for-nothing. He is married off in the hope that he becomes responsible. But much to the chagrin of his aging mother and sister, he prefers to canoodle with his wife for whom personal hygiene means only bathing in perfumed soaps.
Reality starts dawning when his wife talks about battling infection during those days of the month. Using rags as pads is the reason. A trip to the city to seek employment makes Phullu aware of the subject and more determined to find a way to make sanitary pads to alleviate the misery of the village women.
Though Sharib sinks his teeth into the role, the first half drags with too much time devoted to romancing his ladylove. Things start moving only in the second half, when he strives towards creating awareness. But there are only a few moments when the audience can strike a chord with Phullu's struggle to achieve his mission. Inaamulhaq (remember the army major from Akshay Kumar-starrer 'Airlift', 2016?) provides some mirth to the proceedings as Mr Know-it-all in an endearing cameo.
Sans starry names, mindblogging budget or a publicity blitzkrieg, 'Phullu' has been targeted at the hinterlands. The makers were upset when the film obtained an 'A' certificate, as they were keen to inculcate the importance of hygiene among teenage girls. 'Phullu', at times, may appear to be a social service campaign, considering its subject, but an effort has been made which needs to be lauded. It may be a small start, but a beginning has been made to change the mindset about menstruation.
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