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Toilet – Ek Prem Katha  : Message In A Lota
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Friday, August 11, 2017
Romance
Shree Narayan Singh
Akshay Kumar, Bhumi Pednekar, Anupam Kher, Divyendu Sharma, Sudhir Pandey

Taking off from a real life case, writers Garima and Siddharth carry the Prime Minister’s call for a toilet in every household into the theatres. It is unabashed propaganda for the Swachch Bharat Abhyan but no fear, this is not a documentary. Director Shree Narayan Singh has turned it into an entertaining vehicle to carry the message where it should be heard.

 

Keshav and the men of his village, don’t think twice before unzipping and relieving themselves wherever they please. For the women, answering nature’s call is literally a trek into nature, into fields under cover of pre-dawn darkness.In fact the women turn it into an enjoyable lota party where they gossip, sit on their haunches, and do what they have to. If the occasional badmaash comes along flashing his headlights, the women simply pull the ghunghat or veil further down to cover their faces. So what if other parts are bared? The idea is to save face, once again, literally.What if a woman wants to do it at any other time of the day? She’d better learn to control herself.

 

When Keshav falls in love with the well-educated Jaya from a progressive family, it doesn’t even strike him to tell her that his house doesn’t have its own toilet. It’s a shock to her and her reaction shocks everybody, including Keshav. Why the ruckus over such a small issue? Religion, tradition and village panchayats play their part in ensuring that these practices stay the way they are, resisting every move for a change. That’s what Keshav realises when he begins to understand how necessary a toilet is for the women of the house. As he says with disgust, it’s not a question of sauch, it’s about soch.

 

The screenplay weaves in several other superstitions and traditions including a wedding ceremony to a buffalo for Keshav whose stars don’t favour marriage. In narrating the romance of Keshav and Jaya, other time-worn beliefs like a girl shouldn’t be too educated are also neatly brought in.

 

Most of the problems are not those of the urban elite but for those who’ve never entertained the idea of a toilet within the house. The raw title may also put off the elite. But by setting the film in a village and going the whole hog in showing outdated customs still being rigidly followed, hopefully, the audience it is targeted for will identify with it and make required changes in their mindset.

 

Of course, the film is loud, it is not a stylish, sophisticated product.A bit lengthy too at 161 minutes, there are lots of songs. Gori tulatt maar shows a rural custom where the women beat their men to their hearts’ content once a year.

 

Akshay Kumar makes an effective Keshav battling for women. Bhumi Pednekar isn’t gorgeous looking but performs well as feisty wife Jaya. Anupam Kher as Jaya’s uncle, Divyendu Sharma as Akshay’s brother and Sudhir Pandey as the unrelenting Panditji make strong supporting pillars.

 

For a film that has humour and a heart, Toilet Ek Prem Katha gets a 3.5* rating.

 

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Senior Journalist & Author

 

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