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Among 100 Most Influential People, the inventor from the suburbs of Coimbatore city was driven to finding a solution when he was dismayed at seeing his wife resort to unhygienic methods to manage her period days as the family could not afford sanitary pads for its women.“I saw my wife tip-toeing around with some rag in her hand, something which I wouldn’t use to clean my two-wheeler with,” said Muruganantham about the day the ‘affordable pad’ idea was probably conceived.
“My first reaction was to rush to the store to buy sanitary pads, and when I returned with them bundled in a newspaper, my wife said that if we continue buying these pads, the milk has to be struck off the monthly budget list, and she didn’t favour that,” Muruganantham recalled.
A discreet supply chain sees the pads through to consumers.
The pad costing Rs 2 and made of high-quality pine wood pulp is distributed through a grassroots method of door-to-door sales and retailing by word of mouth.“We have set up 4,800 pad-making machines for individuals and groups in different parts of India with the help of about 1,000 volunteers, who joined the network by word of mouth.”The machine, which can produce 1,500 pads a day, is simple to run and the raw material, available in paper stores, easy to source – in total, a business operation that is within the grasp and resources of India’s semi-skilled and unskilled millions. Muruganantham set about constructing the pad in 1994 and when it took shape in 2004, he needed volunteers to test it.
“I wanted to support my mother, so left school," said Muruganantham, who then started work at a welding workshop.
But the good-looking padman, sporting a neatly combed hairstyle, a pair of and sober clothing, does just that, and with prowess, as a sneak peek of the movie revealed.
He even manages to deliver several lines of mildly broken English on public platforms, sharing on silver screen Muruganantham’s popular, humour-flecked motivational talks to Fortune 500 and multinational companies, and TED audiences.
Muruganantham spent several days at many locations where , also starring Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte in leading roles, was shot, and assisted the crew.“Akshay and I interacted for a year and a half,” said Muruganandam, who doesn’t know Hindi.
With director R Balki, who is Tamil, helping with some crucial communication, the two exchanged ideas, experiences in English.