Toilet: Ek Prem Katha ... Part fun, part sermon

With little choice of genres left for films after themes like family social, horror and mythology were taken away by TV channels, filmmakers have to find variations in what they are left with: romance, action and comedy.

Toilet Ek Prem Katha is a small town love story, and a love story needs a villain in some form. Unless the coming together of two lovers is met with some hindrances causing anxiety among the viewers, it remains incomplete. In this film, the villain that becomes the cause of separation between two lovers is a tradition that stops the villagers from creating the facility of toilets within the house.

The character of Akshay Kumar is a small town lad who is well past his marriageable age due to the superstitions of his father played by Sudhir Pandey, a pandit, who is convinced that the character of Akshay’s marriage will fail since he has a negative influence of planet Mars on his horoscope and that his wife will have to have two thumbs in her palm if the marriage has to work. Pandey gets rid of half the ill effects of horoscope by getting Akshay married to a buffalo cow. Now all that remains to be made sure for Akshay to enjoy a blissful married life is to find a girl with two thumbs!

But, fate ordains otherwise. While travelling on a railway shuttle, Akshay comes across Bhumi Pedenkar and both get into an argument over toilet manners. There is little in common between the two as Akshay’s character is a 12th-standard pass while Bhumi is a university topper. Her small family of four keeps pace with times while Akshay’s father, who dominates his life, lives in past. Akshay is 37 while Bhumi is a student.

However, all these do not deter Akshay from falling in love with Bhumi. He starts chasing her till, like it happens in such love stories; Bhumi too is attracted to Akshay. The families agree to the match. While Bhumi’s family has no reservations, to deceive Pandey, Akshay gets an artificial extra thumb fitted on Bhumi’s hand.

It is all lovey dovey for Akshay and Bhumi. But at the first dawn post-marriage a bunch of women come to call Bhumi to join them. Called Lota Gang, the women are on their way to far off fields for their daily ablutions.Having been brought up in a house with all the comforts, Bhumi cannot cope with this situation. She demands that a toilet be built within the house.

While Akshay is trying to convince Pandey, he and Bhumi find ways to make things comfortable for her. Akshay comes up with what is called Jugaad, an ad hoc arrangement, each day so Bhumi need not go to fields. One of them is to take her to the local railway station where a particular train stops for seven minutes during which she is supposed to finish her business. Once, Akshay even steals a portable toilet. And, finally he builds one in his house only for it to be broken down by Pandey and other village folk.

The film now shifts to the campaign run by the present government which aims to build toilet facility for every individual or community. However, the climax is the same as many such films about crusades the corruption in government departments, the involvement of the media and so on. What is different but inspired from real life incidents is the married woman leaving her husband and home because it does it not have a toilet.

Having taken up the issue of toilets and the lack of it, the film takes too long to touch the crusade against a certain class’s mindset that prevent them from installing this basic facility in the house. Towards the end, especially in the last 50 minutes or so, it becomes preachy. The proceedings should have been crisper.

The direction is fair. While the first half offers some entertainment, the later part has only little of it. The film has one song that works for it in Gori tu latth maar.... as it has visual appeal. Production values are average.

The film scores on casting. Akshay Kumar is good as a confident small town lad. Bhumi Pednekar is convincing. Divyendu Sharma, Anupam Kher, Sudhir Pandey and Rajesh Sharma support well.

Toilet Ek Prem Katha has average merit but is expected to enjoy a huge weekend from Saturday till Tuesday, and again a restricted holiday to follow for the Parsi New Year on 17th. This should help the film reach its target.

Producers: Aruna Bhatia, Shital Bhatia, Prernaa Arora, Arjun N. Kapoor, Hitesh Thakkar.

Director: Shree Narayan Singh.

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Bhumi Pednekar, . Divyendu Sharma, Anupam  Kher, Sudhir Pandey and Rajesh Sharma.

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