Directed By: Shree Narayan Singh
Produced By: Aruna Bhatia, Shital Bhatia, Prernaa Arora, Arjun N Kapoor, Hitesh Thakkar
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Bhumi Pednekar
Duration: 2 hours 35 minutes
Bollywood Bubble Rating: 3/5
When a film promises to harp on orthodox and evil perceptions (and systems) that have stayed on for long, it is quite a challenge. There’s always a fear of sounding preachy, and at the same time you must be impactful enough to turn the table around. Akshay Kumar and Bhumi Pednekar-starrer ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’ created quit a stir that way. Not just because it tries to strike a constructive conversation regarding poorly managed sanitation system of India, but also brings into picture how an otherwise fulfilling love story is impacted by the very real problem.
Akshay (Keshav) and Bhumi’s (Jaya) introduction to each other and a gradually discovery of mutual fondness form the first half of the film. Keshav and Jaya, who meet in a local train, have another quirky encounter as Keshav, owner of a cycle shop, incidentally sells a bicycle to Jaya’s father. After initial reluctance, she is is taken aback by Keshav’s simplicity and honesty, and ties the knot; however, without the knowledge that his house doesn’t have a personal toilet. There begins Jaya’s struggle. After a few rounds of demands, she decides to turn stern and leaves the house.
There begins the film’s real mission. Even in 2017 as we boast of many a developments we already cherish, you will find strange and contradictory mindsets that are anything but progressive. As an outcome, mobiles phones are far more accessible than public toilets and the otherwise ‘sanskari’ bunch wouldn’t mind going to the field for their daily morning ritual. Keeping the practical scenario in mind, the film tries to build up a relatable conflict between the old-fashioned villagers who disown the entire practice of personal toilets and Akshay who stands against the flow and would go to any extent to change this. That is not just because he is on the verge of losing his ladylove, but also because he has slowly come to realise how this often leads women to massive embarrassment and various other forms of sexual harassment.
But does it succeed? The first half is considerably enjoyable, thanks to fair share of comic elements and the swift transition of romance. At the same time, we thoroughly enjoyed how a much humane bond is slowly built up between Akshay and Bhumi. Bhumi’s character, an educated and enlightened one from a village, is progressive but doesn’t mindlessly try to be a modern woman in appearance. That’s what has retained her originality. She has got the accent and pronunciation just right, and looks real.
Akshay is decent, although a number of directors in the past, have handled him better and churned out better performances from him. In the second half, though, things are in for a change. Any revolution that is against the system, is neither easy nor comfortable. However, here, it happens quickly and conveniently. In fact, it is surprising as to how how Akshay, single-handedly, manages to stir the entire state administration.
In between, the screenplay witnesses several drops and the pace goes for a toss. But thanks to consistent turn of events, we manage to stay hooked.
The film’s music, which is strictly average in merit, might have a few takers. None of the songs would stay with you for long. Even in the film, they are strictly situational. ‘Toilet – Ek Prem Katha’ is decently shown and you do spot a few flaws in editing here and there. It could be trimmed to another 15-20 minutes.
We also have to mention Divyendu Sharma and Sudhir Pandey, who within their limited character space, have done a commendable job.
Do films indeed act a tool of change? No one yet has the answer. But yes, this one will definitely make you think!