Sofia Ashraf's quirky Period Paatu has a concerned message
There’s a reason why she’s called Sista. She’s the one who understands people’s agonies and is also vocal about it. Sofia Ashraf, the self-proclaimed Sista From The South is back online, doing what she does best. This time though, she isn’t taking on any multi-national giant or any political faction. With Period Paatu, Sofia is singing her heart out about women and their period problems. But before you assume that she’s crooning about the pains and pressures, let’s caution you that our Sista isn’t the one who sings the same old tune.
Period Paatu talks about period products per se. She narrates the horrors of using tampons, highlights the issue of obnoxious dumping of sanitary pads, and the challenges of using a menstrual cup. Sofia presents these facts musically using the Villu Paatu story-telling tradition from Tamil Nadu. The video was released by Culture Machine on their Blush channel on YouTube to mark the World Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28.
So far the video has been viewed more than 70,000 times and counting. Interestingly, it’s Sofia’s personal experience using the menstrual cup that apparently led to the genesis of the idea behind this video. In an email interaction, she reveals, “Sometime in 2015, I made the switch from pads to tampons for purely functional reasons. But, within a few months, I got an infection and visited my gynaecologist who informed me that our tropical climate might not be very conducive to sticking bleached things up my vagina. So I began research on the effect of menstrual hygiene products on our body," says Sofia.
Research led her to understand the ill-effects of pad disposal on the environment and the plight of sanitation workers and the process of pads and tampon manufacturing that uses enormous amounts of chemicals. "My quest was not in vain, though and I soon discovered the holy grail of menstruation. Or should I say, “holy cup”? I moved on to the Menstrual Cup and a year after cupverting, I realised it was as life-changing as it was touted to be. I felt this information was something that needed to be out there and decided to use the opportunity of Menstrual Hygiene Day to speak about the pros and cons of the menstrual hygiene products available to us," she further adds.
Therefore, Period Pattu isn't just entertainment, we say it's infotainment where Sofia rattles out numbers discovered during the research, through the engaging Villu Paatu storytelling form. "In the past we have explored rap, 50s duets, 80s disco and comedy listicles. Period Paatu was particularly tricky as there was a mountain of research and statistics that I needed to present to an audience that liked their information bite sized and plated with plenty of “lol”s.
As a format, Villu Paatu is catchy, comical, quirky and at the same time allows you the freedom to cram a lot of information into the performance. I decided to adapt this traditional form for the modern “media” (stage) - YouTube," says Sista Sofia and it sure is working in her favour.