For what it's worth, the makers of Padman have managed to turn the #PadmanChallenge into a successful, social media campaign. The likes of Aamir Khan, Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif and Akshay Kumar, posing with sanitary napkins in their hand...who would've thought?
Although the practicality of the campaign remains debatable, there's no denying that this is possibly the first time in India, that a 'challenge' has turned into such a widely participated campaign. The Padman Challenge is not the first campaign dedicated to erase the stigma around menstruation, but it's definitely the biggest and most visible.
The prominence of the campaign can be credited to the popularity of Akshay Kumar,who is already being touted as "India's superhero". Along with him, Sonam Kapoor's religious Instagram update and Twinkle Khanna's appearances are helping their cause, too. It is because of Kumar's leanings, and his body of work that have provided the campaign the shove it required. Apart from Kumar, Khanna's offline and online activism has also propelled the campaign to the extent that even regular people are posing with sanitary napkins and joining the discourse.
Before the #PadmanChallenge took over social media, the Lahu Ka Lagaan campaign, started by She Says, urged the govt to reduce taxes on pads. The movement was supported by various artists across industries. Taapsee Pannu, Gul Panag, Rohan Joshi, Mallika Dua, Vishal Dadlani and Aditi Rao Hydari among others. Although the campaign fizzled out, it still grabbed eyeballs and revived the debate whether sanitary pads should be tax exempt.
Another campaign which gained worldwide momentum was the #LikeAGirl campaign by Whisper. Seeking to end not just the stigma around periods, the campaign also made a strong case against gender discrimination. Although it was a marketing gimmick for a sanitary product making company, it was participated in much actively overseas, than in India. Soha Ali Khan and Bani J had extended their support to the campaign when it spread to India.
A mass-led crusade, the #HappyToBleed movement also saw active partakers. Indian women used the hashtag to address the shame and stereotypes associated with menstruation. There was little to no celebrity participation in the movement and almost none media attention.
Considering the media glare and the response of the general public, the #PadmanChallenge looks like it's striking the right chords. However, whether the movement is taken forward by the people who have readily taken the challenge, or loses momentum once Padman hits the theatres, remains to be seen.