“There are a lot of things that still need to be changed. A lot needs to change.”-Shabana ( one of the Narrator )
As the title of this short 26 minutes duration documentary suggests, the movie talks about “Period. End of Sentence.” It talks about how menstruation is still believed to be a taboo in India and that it should never be a cause for women to not soar high. Yes, the documentary is very inspiring and hence has won the Oscars 2019 for ‘Best Short Documentary’.
The documentary is shot in a village of Hapur District, which is 60km from Delhi. The movie starts with two girls shying away when asked about period. It shows how even speaking about period make the girls feel uncomfortable. The awareness about menstrual cycle and its hygiene is still not up to mark in the rural areas of India and hence there is a lot to change still. The documentary tries to capture the problems faced by the rural women when they are on their cycle. Getting period is a big reason in itself for the women folk to be a drop out from school. Disposing of pads even made them feel ashamed and moreover the stigma of menstruation persisted largely. The reasons of period are still unknown to them and the documentary reveals the age old patriarchal mind set where the male members of the community turn a deaf ear towards menstruation calling it a woman’s disease. Thus, even in an environment of ingrained stigma of menstruation the documentary features how women strive and work hard to become financially more independent so that empowerment speaks in itself for them.
The documentary introduces to its viewers characters like Sneha, Rekha , Shabana and others from the village who become the flag bearers for women of the village and have the spirit to empower themselves. Sneha who aspires to join the Delhi Police is an active character in the documentary and she wants to soar high with freedom.
The film introduces Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social activist from Coimbatore, whose intentions are to make India a 100% sanitary napkin using country. The movie “Pad man”, Akshay Kumar starrer was inspired by him and it was he who set up the first affordable pad making machine. As per him, “Everybody knows it, but no one wants to talk about it.” This particular statement justifies the title of this award winning documentary completely. As the installation of a pad machine begins in the village, the women acknowledge the use of sanitary napkins/pads and become aware that there is a thing called ‘pad’ which can replace the age old practise of using cloth during their cycle, further giving them hygiene, comfort and relief from shame and uneasiness. Further, the women of the village find their source of income by this small scale activity in the village and even initiate a marketing campaign for the sale of ‘fly’ pads.
The film further justifies its title by using the technique of narrative in an efficient manner. The hesitation of the women to talk about period in front of the camera was well taken care of by the director Rayka Zehtabchi and the narrative voices were heard throughout the documentary without getting the subjects in front of the camera unless they were comfortable, was even remarkable. This is how the documentary pictured the problem faced by the woman even today in India in a short duration efficiently.
The entrepreneurial skills of the woman have been pictured really well in the documentary which tells the viewers that their passion is unstoppable. The making of pads have not only earned them an income but also have given wings to their ambition. Sneha, one of the characters in the film, is funding her training for Delhi Police through the wages she is earning from the pad machine. The installation of pad machines were funded by the students of Oakwood School in Los Angeles and these machines brought about a significant change in the lives of the women in the village enlightening them on their way to freedom.
Thus, period is period. And it ends there. It has nothing to do absolutely with the independence or education of women. Patriarchy and age old beliefs are still so ingrained in Indian society that seeing period as a taboo is nothing more than a myth. Its simple biology that people need to understand and for that reason more awareness on menstrual cycle, its hygiene and affordable sanitary napkins would definitely make a revolution in the rural areas , thus making a shift from being called as a taboo to just simply terming it as “Period. End of Sentence.”
-SONALI PATNAIK M.Phil. 2nd Year, CJNS, JMI.