India-set film on taboos around menstruation finds Oscar glory
Los Angeles: “Period. End of Sentence”, an India-set film on the taboos around menstruation, won an Oscar in the Documentary Short Subject category at the 91st Academy Awards ceremony.
The film, backed by Indian producer Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment, is about women in India fighting against the deeply-rooted stigma around menstruation and delving upon the work of real life ‘Pad Man’ Arunachalam Muruganathan.
Monga, ecstatic about the win which comes a decade since A.R. Rahman registered a twin win at Oscars, said: “Every girl in India or anywhere around the world needs to know this and hear this loud and clear.
“Period is an end of a sentence but not a girl’s education.
“Here is to more girl power… I really want every girl to know that each one of them is a Goddess. Now, that we have an oscar, let’s go change the world.”
Directed by award-winning Iranian-American filmmaker Rayka Zehtabchi, the film is created by The Pad Project, an organisation established by an inspired group of students at the Oakwood School in Los Angeles and their teacher, Melissa Berton.
“I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar,” Zehtabchi said as she got up on the stage to accept the honour.
The 26-minute film follows girls and women in Hapur in northern India and their experience with the installation of a pad machine in their village. It was pitted against “Black Sheep” (on racism), “End Game” (on medical break-throughs), “Lifeboat” (on migrant crisis) and “A Night At The Garden” (a 1939 Nazi rally in New York).
Zehtabchi and Berton accepted the award with their inspiring words.
“I’m not crying because I’m on my period or anything.”
“Period…”, which is on Netflix, is executive produced by Monga and is co-produced by Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment, which has backed films like “The Lunchbox” and “Masaan”. The Indian producer even got a huge shout out from the team while accepting the award.
“Guneet Monga — know that you have been empowering women all over the world fight for menstrual equality,” Zehtabchi said, in a special moment for India at the Oscars.
Berton dedicated the award to her school, saying “the project was born because her students in Los Angeles and people in India wanted to make a human rights difference”.
“I share this award with the Feminist Majority Foundation, the entire team and cast. I share this with the teachers and students around the worlds — a period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education,” she added.
This victory is likely to give a fillip to open discussions around menstruation — something which got a kickstart with Akshay Kumar’s “Pad Man”, inspired by the life of Muruganathan.