Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is in cinemas now. All of us are hoping for an entertaining, fun-filled, yet not completely absurd film
Toilet: Ek Prem KathaA two and a half hour date with toilet-based humor and the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
Toilet: Ek Prem Katha
Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is in cinemas now. All of us are hoping for an entertaining, fun-filled, yet not completely absurd film to jumpstart the Independence Day cheer. Toilet: Ek Prem Katha endeavours to suit our masala-friendly palates. The film is directed by Shree Narayan Singh, and co-produced by Akshay Kumar and Neeraj Pandey. It stars Akki and Bhumi Pednekar of Dum Laga ke Haisha fame in lead roles. The film is centered around the highly publicized Swachh Bharat campaign, and is also inspired from true events. But even with all this to it’s credit, is it a friendly option for your Independence Day weekend? Read on.
First, let’s meet the actors:
Patriotic Kumar as Keshav
Bhumi Pednekar as Jaya
Sudhir Pandey as Bau-ji
Anupam Kher as Kaka
Divyendu Sharma as wing-man and comic-relief
Cinema is a mirror of the society, but seldom does it voluntarily fit it’s job description. Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is praise-worthy for it’s attempt at bringing a highly hushed-up social issue to light. Defecation in the open, or the lack of decent sanitation is not regarded as acceptable drawing room talk. Not one Indian would like to lend their ears to an honest conversation about inappropriate sanitation practices. Not one Indian, out of the 56 percent which defecate in the open, day in and day out, completely guilt free. This is why films like Toilet: Ek Prem Katha are important. Unlike most Indian cinema that simply concentrates on boosting our population’s fragile egos and sense of self, TEPK shatters that very ego and shows us our flaws.
The film starts out with a reluctant maanglik- bachelor, Akshay Kumar (as Keshav), who is in the restless search of a wife. An ordinary shop-owner in his 30s, who is yet to feel love’s keen sting. After a demeaning marriage to a buffalo, Lady love greets him in the form of Bhumi Pednekar (as Jaya). College topper Jaya, who isn’t the average ghunghat-clad girl is a tough one to woo. However, Akshay soon wins her over with his goofy and slightly ignoble tactics. All is peaceful in utopia until Bhumi realizes that the house which she has married into, doesn’t offer a latrine. The film then progresses, from the average masala love story to a socially relevant piece of cinema.
Sadly, this is the part where the film falters. The correct balance that the makers maintained uptil the first half of the film, is lost in the second half. The themes of romance and joviality are completely lost to herald, a not very realistic and preachy depiction of the issue. Akshay Kumar, as he is known best for, discards his light hearted demeanor and begins slamming the desks of officials, making angry speeches with a grave countenance and stares reflectively at the night sky. The issue takes centerstage and we are all re-introduced to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan (in full force).
Akshay Kumar’s acting is without a doubt stellar. He so very effortlessly enriches his character, that it might seem slightly unnerving. The way a perfectly played out symphony makes us wonder about lack of aberration. However, one thing which can be said is that Akshay Kumar was playing in his home-field. A patriotic film with a light first half and a heavy second half is by default, his forte. Keshav is human and understandable. The typical story of how a love lost leads to the birth of courage in an average man is well executed by the veteran actor, yet again. You can’t help smiling like a fool at some of his verbal jousts with his father, and neither will you be able to control your excitement at his minor triumphs. That of course, is the mark of an great actor. (At least a populist one). He could have worked on the accent though.
Bhumi is regarded as a fine actress and rightly so. She proves her mettle yet again in Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. Her contribution to the unconventional love story that the leads share is very visceral. She even manages to divert our attention from Akshay Kumar’s self-righteousness and pay heed to her fiery speeches about the disgrace that is a lack of adequate sanitation.
Anupam Kher and Sudhir Pandey play very important roles in the film. Sudhir Pandey especially manages bring to the fore the face of all the superstition that surrounds the issue. He simply does not budge, just as the ordinary Indian villager shackled by his uneducated beliefs. Sudhir Pandey is a formidable wall of rejection in the latter half of the film, and his acting must be appreciated.
Another actor who needs to be appreciated, is Divyendhu Sharma. He is absoultely adorable as the wing-man/side-kick. Much of the easy-going joviality of the first half can be attributed to his dumb-smile, goofy jokes and great comic timing. He plays Akshay’s brother who is completely invested in Akshay’s budding romance for no reason other than unemployment and stable entertainment. (who doesn’t love a character with no emotional baggage). Divyendhu Sharma has delivered a good performance, and we hope to see more of him in the future.
Now, whether you would be up for a film that highlights and de-constructs a social evil, is completely upto you. For Akshay Kumar it’s a win-win situation. This 18-crore budget film is bound to make monetary profit and may even profit the actors’ obvious political aspirations in the long run. The film has an average storyline, it’s predictable and at times may seem too instructive. However, it is packed and entertaining. (Just as most Akshay Kumar- brand cinema is) Nothing phenomenal, nothing absolutely stinking. This ‘on-the-better-side-of-mediocre’ is a good one-time watch, maybe even not necessarily in the movie theater. As long as you don’t mind a lecture running for more than 5 minutes at a strech about something which you probably are not responsible for, it’ll be fine. We give it 3/5.
You will like this film if: you liked Rustom, Jolly LLB 2 and Rowdy Rathore
You will dislike this film if: you wanted a glamorous heroine and off-shore shoots and none of the social cause banter
Best Performance: Akshay Kumar