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4 Sep

Two films, one subject: the commode!

Within a span of one month, two films – one each in India and Pakistan – have released with the commode as central theme. Akshay Kumar’s Toilet – Ek Prem Katha talks about the importance of sanitation, whereas Na Maloom Afraad 2 tackles a commode made of gold in the literal sense. However, do the two have anything in common beyond the use of a potty as pivot? We analyse.

Starring the Khiladi hero and Bhumi Pednekar, Toilet – Ek Prem Katha is quite simple in its narrative. We all need sanitation as a basic human necessity and where it isn’t present, it can be a huge marital issue as well. Clearly, in the visceral sense, no one would like to walk miles into the woods to defecate, but for a huge chunk of the Subcontinents’ women, it’s an unimaginable reality.

However, in the Nabeel Qureshi directorial, NMA 2, things take a unique turn in regards to one special toilet, the Sheikh’s gold commode to be exact. Revolving around Sheikh Baklava’s priceless pooping accessory, the story is filled to the brim with twists and turns and the toilet in fact comes as satire on social disparity.

Also read: 5 Reasons why Na Maloom Afraad 2 is the perfect masala film this Eid-Ul-Azha

 

Going in the right direction, NMA 2 cheaps out on discussing the topic when it’s the need of the hour.

 

Although it’s slightly unfair to compare the two films in their importance and contribution to their respective film industry, it’s quite clear which one of the two manages to open up the floors to a discussion. After all, how many of us do feel that the problem of sanitation may exist in India but here, it’s all good. Believing that, would truly be being unaware of the reality of life.

In short, the problem doesn’t really lie in the narrative nor the directors or even the actors, but actually, the audience itself. Are we as a nation ready to see films based on our harsh realities or will we once again – like we did with Bol, Khuda Ke Liye, Manto or any of Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s documentaries – call social commentaries ‘art films’? We all know the answer to that.

Also read: Haute Review: Toilet – Ek Prem Katha

As an industry getting back on its feet, Pakistan’s film industry needs to find a balance between responsible and entertaining filmmaking. Na Maloom Afraad (the franchise) may not be a Prem Katha but it is a very solid start to films that convey important messages while entertaining the crowds.

Note: Other films revolving around potty humour (so to speak) are Piku, Delhi Belly and the likes of Captain Underpants.

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Shahjehan Saleem

The author is Contributing 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.