Film Review: Toilet Ek Prem Katha
Date: 11 August 2017
Producer: Bhatia, Arora, Kapoor, Thakkar
Director: Shree Narayan Singh
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Bhumi Pednekaar
Rating: 3.5 stars
She is fiery, fearless and upfront. He is foolish, frivolous and evades issues till confronted by finality. He is 37 unmarried, uneducated, she is a topper in her 20s and raring to go. Realistically there’s no meeting ground between the highbrow Jaya/ Bhumi Pednekar and the cycle shop owner Keshav/ Akshay Kumar but cupid has his own reasons and Uttar Pradesh’s Mand village has one more wedding to relish the celebrations.
At dawn while Jaya is fast asleep snuggled beside her groom, she is awakened by the village women on their daily walk to the forest mockingly referred to as lota party and Jaya is outraged to discover that her in-laws have no toilet in the house!
For the sake of her husband Jaya makes sincere attempts to adjust to her new routine. The newlyweds plan adventurous alternatives but when all plans fail, a furious Jaya returns to her parents determined to not return until her husband builds a toilet in the house.
The first half of the film concentrates on the blossoming romance between the lovers set against the backdrop of this quaint village comprising cow dung homes, bicycles, and kulhad chai. The characters converse in local dialect with a dash of twisted English and relish colorful festivals.
The second half while specifically addressing the toilet issue stirs age old traditions and questions meaningless rituals. When Keshav is not supported by the Panchayat he seeks legal aid and exposes corruption in bureaucracy that drums all the way to media and Mantralay!
What goes in favor of the film is the native humor, the extra-ordinary writing, the ambiance, the music, the engaging characters and most important, the message of the film. Clearly this is not an ordinary love story questioning inequality in status/ religion/ age/ caste/ power. We have seen that in many social films over the decades.
Nor is it a film about dowry and pressures of patriarchal society, this time it is a rare story about gender sensitivity, about a married woman who returns to her parents and they are supportive of her decision. This time it’s the woman making demands. Demand for a toilet or should we say demand for dignity!
As Keshav, Akshay Kumar is hilarious in his wedding ceremony with the buffalo and later chatting up his wife inside a toilet cubicle. Bhumi Pednekar for her second film is refreshingly original and redefines the girl next door.
The only problem with the film is that it’s a little long and tad repetitive but you overlook the flaws for the bigger message of the film.
I rate Toilet Ek Prem Katha with 3.5 stars.