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20 Aug

Haute Review: Toilet – Ek Prem Katha

Something Haute rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Out of all mediums available to humans for communication, visual culture presents the world to us just the way we mold it. After all, we all love watching happy endings and goofy comedies without batting an eye. But, what if that same space is used to show us a mirror to the society we inhabit? The answer is, we find our true reality and we often hate it. Such is the example of Toilet – Ek Prem Katha. A two-and-a-half-hour epic that will probably make you question – if not hate – the third world civilization we live in.

Narrating the life of a go-getter Keshav (Akshay Kumar) and a relatively liberal Jaya (Bhumi Pednekar), the film mazes through the first half with the two falling in love, marrying, and a conflict rising. However, unlike any other Bollywood flick you might have seen this year, this isn’t any ordinary fight. It’s about a toilet. That’s right, as the eponymous tale suggests, it doesn’t strike Keshav to tell his wife that his house doesn’t have a toilet. This, of course, puts their marriage in unpleasant territory.

Directed by Shree Narayan Singh, the film is a welcome respite from Bollywood’s continuous slump at the box office, which even made the Khans of the industry worry about their luck. However, what makes Toilet – Ek Prem Katha such a success isn’t really just Akshay’s acting, but the fact that the film has substance and meaning. It truly isn’t made for the leave-your-brain-at-home crowd but those who bring it with them.

 

The two-and-a-half-hour epic that will probably make you question – if not hate, the civilization we live in.

 

Having said that, Akshay Kumar in a funny yet convincing role is the backbone of this satire whereas Bhumi Pednekar is perfect as the righteous and feisty Jaya.

For a majority of us who take the toilets in our homes for granted, we need to realize that about more than half of India and – many areas of Pakistan too – still practice open defecation! Yes, anyone wondering if these areas exist in the twenty first century, should also realize these specific geographic locations also hold the largest populations of the Subcontinent and are the most marginalized. However, that still isn’t what the film narrates. What it really depicts is the human condition, where it’s perfectly fine to answer the call of nature in fields and risk infections but having a loo built in the house is uncouth.

Holding up a mirror to society, Toilet – Ek Prem Katha is no flush-worthy concept and if anything, it’s probably the most entertaining film from Bollywood this year.

 

 

 

 

Shahjehan Saleem

The author is Deputy Editor at Something Haute as well as a professor in the Media Sciences department at SZABIST, Karachi. Socio-cultural theories and geography fill up the rest of his time.