Menstruation in Bollywood Movies: Breaking Taboos and Celebrating Womanhood

Bollywood, India's vibrant film industry, has a significant influence on Indian society. Over the years, it has taken strides in portraying menstruation more openly and breaking the silence surrounding this natural phenomenon. In this blog, we'll delve into the representation of menstruation in Bollywood movies, shedding light on how these films have played a pivotal role in challenging taboos and celebrating womanhood.

Taboos and Cultural Perspectives

In India, menstruation has long been surrounded by cultural taboos and stigmas. It's often viewed as impure, and women are subjected to restrictions during their periods. However, Bollywood has not shied away from addressing these issues and providing a platform for discussion.

Pad Man (2018)

Pad Man, directed by R. Balki, is a groundbreaking Bollywood film based on the true story of Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social entrepreneur who revolutionized menstrual hygiene in rural India. The film highlights the lack of access to sanitary pads and the challenges women face due to menstruation. This film was a game-changer in Bollywood. It not only addressed the issue of menstrual hygiene but also celebrated the determination of a man who dared to challenge societal norms to improve women's lives. Pad Man started a nationwide conversation about menstruation and ignited movements advocating for better menstrual hygiene management.

Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (2017)

While not solely focused on menstruation, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, directed by Shree Narayan Singh, addresses the issue of sanitation in rural India, which directly impacts women's lives, particularly during their periods. The film highlights the challenges faced by women who lack access to clean and safe toilets. It indirectly underscores the importance of proper sanitation facilities, which is crucial for maintaining hygiene during menstruation. By portraying these challenges, the film raises awareness about the broader implications of inadequate sanitation on women's health and dignity.

Durga (2022)

Durga, starring Radhika Apte, is a recent addition to the list of Bollywood films addressing menstruation. Directed by Ruchi Narain, the film tells the story of a young girl named Durga who faces societal pressure and stigma due to her menstruation cycle. Durga explores the emotional and psychological turmoil that young girls often experience when confronted with menstruation taboos. It sheds light on the challenges faced by girls who are excluded from everyday activities during their periods and the impact this has on their self-esteem and well-being. By showcasing this narrative, the film encourages a more open dialogue about menstruation and the need to challenge age-old traditions that limit women's freedom.

Celebrating Womanhood

Bollywood movies have also celebrated menstruation as a natural part of a woman's life, breaking away from stereotypes and embracing the beauty of womanhood.

Queen (2013)

Queen, directed by Vikas Bahl, is a heartwarming film that tells the story of a young woman who embarks on a solo journey of self-discovery after her wedding is called off. While menstruation is not the central theme, the film includes a candid and relatable scene where the protagonist unexpectedly starts her period while travelling. This scene is significant because it portrays menstruation as a natural occurrence that can happen at any time, emphasizing the importance of being prepared and unashamed. It also highlights the resilience of women who face unexpected challenges with grace and humour.

Parched (2015)

Parched, directed by Leena Yadav, is a film that delves into the lives of women in rural India, addressing issues of patriarchy, gender-based violence, and societal expectations. Menstruation is one of the aspects of women's lives explored in the film.

Through its characters, Parched sheds light on the experiences of women in a traditional society and how they navigate menstruation, marriage, and motherhood. The film challenges stereotypes by depicting the strength and solidarity among women in the face of adversity.

In conclusion Bollywood has played a vital role in reshaping the narrative around menstruation in India. These movies have not only addressed the taboos and challenges associated with menstruation but have also celebrated the strength and resilience of women.

"Pad Man" sparked a nationwide conversation about menstrual hygiene, "Toilet: Ek Prem Katha" highlighted the importance of sanitation, "Durga" addressed the emotional turmoil faced by girls due to menstrual taboos, "Queen" portrayed menstruation as a natural part of life, and "Parched" delved into the complex lives of women in rural India.

These films have not only entertained audiences but also educated them, fostering a greater understanding of the issues women face and challenging societal norms. Bollywood continues to be a powerful platform for advocating women's rights, breaking taboos, and celebrating womanhood. As we look to the future, we can hope for even more progressive and impactful portrayals of menstruation in Indian cinema, contributing to a more open and inclusive society.