Menstrual Man

In this improbable success story, a poor and uneducated Indian helps supply rural women with sanitary napkins. Muruganantham devoted years to the development of easy-to-produce pads. After discovering his wife’s rudimentary means of managing her period, he went on a quest to provide low cost sanitary towels to rural Indian women. It’s an enjoyable and briskly paced tale with dark undertones, because menstrual hygiene is far from ideal among India’s poor population, and Muruganantham himself has been cast as suspect and perverse. Infections are common, and menstruation is accompanied by superstition and fear. Something as simple as sanitary napkins can improve the lives of thousands of women. They still play a central role in Muruganantham’s life, and he crisscrosses India setting up factories and transforming himself into quite a social entrepreneur in the process. Dryly humorous, he explains his inspirational vision both to camera and in voice-over, and short scenes from Indian Bollywood films illustrate his words. We follow him to lectures on his unique “women-to-women” business model, and to remote villages where women such as the resolute Guddiya talk about their escape from poverty made possible by the factory: “My mindset has changed. I have built a new life for myself.”

Amit Virmani
India, Singapore