A few weeks ago, we covered the trailer of Phullu, a movie about a man who tries to educate his village about sanitary pads and menstruation. He’s opposed by his mother and other womenfolk of the village for discussing a taboo topic. If you haven’t watched the trailer yet, here you go:
The CBFC gave the film an “A” rating.
In an interview, Sharib Hashmi, the lead actor of Phullu said that the “A” rating hampers their intention of spreading awareness about sanitary pads amongst families with teenage children.
An ‘A’ certificate is given to films that can adversely affect teenagers who are below the age of 18. The director, Abhishek Saxena, claimed that the movie is void of any profanity, smoking, or any other subject matter that would warrant an ‘A’ rating.
He said that Phullu was made with the aim to encourage people to talk about periods and sanitary pads, and that the rating will only hamper that.
The question, then, remains...
Why is the CBFC trying to stop teenagers from watching a movie about menstruation?
“It’s just that people taking calls at the CBFC are not evolved and educated enough to see the importance of this film. They’ve grown up with a stigma around menstruation, have never discussed it in their homes, and think that it’s a forbidden ‘adult’ topic.”
—Director Abhishek Saxena, in an interview to The Quint.
Although the certification seems unjustified, the makers of Phullu don’t have the time to oppose it because the movie is set to release on June 16th.
Saxena also added that it’s almost impossible to delay the release of an independent film because they have budget constraints and producers are scared that film will become stuck in a rut.
In defence of Phullu and why it needs to be watched by as many people as possible.
I grew up in a conservative Indian family, living in an urban town. My parents are educated, which means they’re fully aware of the fact that menstruation is a biological process. Yet, when it came to talking about “periods”, it was a hush hush matter, especially if my teenage brother was around.
For a long time, my mother kept telling him bullshit like “those white things are used as bandages on people who have suffered major injuries” whenever a Whisper or Stayfree ad came on screen.
My brother was in his early 20s when he found out about the real deal, but he still refuses to talk about it. He just acts like he didn’t accidentally bump into my pack of pads, wrapped in black plastic and hidden on the remotest shelf of the bathroom. It’s as though the women in his house don’t have uteruses.
When I was a teenager, I accepted blindly that menstruation was “shame shame”.
I was cripplingly shy when I had to buy sanitary pads from the chemist. Gradually, by talking to my more woke friends, I realised that there’s nothing shameful about my periods.
The situation is worse in rural areas, where many women aren’t even aware of the existence of sanitary napkins. They use harmful materials like husk, ash, and dried leaves to soak up their period blood. Recently, there was a huge uproar on social media because the government had reduced GST on sindoor and not sanitary napkins, making them unaffordable for most women.
The tax on sanitary napkins is still 12% after the meeting held by GST Council where they revised taxes on items like incense sticks.
— SheSays (@SheSaysIndia) June 12, 2017
Which is why, Phullu is an important film. It needs to be seen especially by teenagers. It’s time young people started discussing menstruation as comfortably as they discuss any other bodily process. Boys should be educated about periods so that their sisters, girlfriends, and friends can openly talk about it with them. Like the director and lead actor of Phullu, and millions of other Indian men, they shouldn’t have to wait till marriage to find out about periods.
But before this can happen, the CBFC has to stop the moral policing of progressive movies.
It's been awhile since we left the Stone Age and entered the 21st century.