Padman: When Akshay had to convince Twinkle!

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By HT

New Delhi, Feb. 8 -- He doesn't fly, he doesn't beat up 40 goons at once, he doesn't even jump off high-rise buildings - yet he's a superhero - Arunachalam Muruganantham, the man who invented a machine to produce low-cost sanitary pads. 

And depicting him on screen in the upcoming film Pad Man is actor Akshay Kumar. It was a buzzing afternoon in HT House when he and his writer-producer wife Twinkle Khanna visited to meet the winners of HT City Stars In The City contest. 

His entry to the office building itself was as dhaasu as it could get - he rode pillion on a bike with one of the motorcyclists of The Bikerni group, India's largest women-only biking group, who then joined in the audience. 

The duo, in conversation with Sonal Kalra, Managing Editor - Entertainment, Hindustan Times, made quite a few revelations. Twinkle, who debuts as a producer with the film, said this could as well be the first and the last film she produces! 

"Most people start with becoming a producer, and then look for a script. I don't know if I will produce a film ever again, but Pad Man's story was so compelling. I decided to write about it in my book. But I realised, unfortunately, that we are a world of viewers rather than readers. If I wanted this subject to cut across India and globally, it would have to be through cinema," she said. 

Much to everyone's surprise, Akshay said that he had to try hard to convince Twinkle to let him play the reel-life Pad Man. 

"She wanted to make a small film. I requested 'Mujhe le lo isme, main kaam karna chahunga!" he said. And Twinkle was fast to add, "It was a risky subject, so I earlier wanted to make just a small movie, because we were unsure whether we would be able to recover the investment, or the film would catch on with the people the way it has. I discussed it with him, and he was fascinated right from the beginning... It's his finest performance." 

The eager fans and winners of the Stars In The City contest also got a chance to interact with Akshay and Twinkle. 

When asked whether he was apprehensive about taking up such a role, he said, "No. If you see the films I have made - Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Airlift, Rustom, Baby - they prove that what matters to me is to play different characters." Talking about the film's title, Twinkle revealed that it was finalised in just "five minutes". 

She said, "R. Balki (the director), Akshay and I were discussing it. I suggested to have something on the lines of a superhero. Earlier, we thought about calling it 'IPad', then thought ki starting mein hi Apple (tech company) humein sue kar dega. (laughs). Then, Balki said 'Pad Man' and that was it!"