Right from the moment the name was announced, ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’ was a film that was going to make headlines. With Akshay Kumar and Bhumi Pednekar leading the cast, the Shree Narayan Singh directorial was to tell the story of a couple who split due to the husband’s house not having a toilet. Kumar has been known for some performance-driven cinema lately so what should audiences expect from ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’.
Keshav (Kumar) and Jaya (Pednekar) fall in love after they meet on a train and have an argument about locking the toilet door. However, on the first night of their marriage, Jaya discovers that the house she’s come to doesn’t have a toilet and that she would have to go with the other women in the village to “do the business” in the fields early in the morning. This creates a rift between the two, with Kumar attempting to convince his adamant father (Sudhir Pandey) to build a toilet in their premises. Jaya ends up leaving her husband’s home but will Keshav manage to convince his father?
Singh has indeed given the film a small-town feel but with a big message. Both the first and second halves of the film are packed with a moving story and the narrative seems to slow down and speed up at various points, creating a world that convinces the audiences well. His attention to detail and the way he manages to get such an important message across from different perspectives is commendable. He also manages to bring out some worthy performances from the main actors.
Kumar and Pednekar are both praiseworthy in their roles of Keshav and Jaya. Pednekar makes a great leap from her debut in 2015’s ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ but it has to said that it’s nothing expected from her. The love story element is what brings this together and it’s only because of their chemistry that it’s absolutely believable for the viewers. Sudhir Pandey as Keshav’s father (known as Panditji) is brilliant as the strong patriarch who is refusing to budge. He remains the one niggling person who just doesn’t want to change and this is very representative of many in the Indian society who are somewhat stuck in the traditions of their ancestors; not willing to take on a modern and different view. Anupam Kher plays Jaya’s uncle and has some of the most important lines in the film, provoking characters into a certain chain of thought. Divyendu Sharma as Keshav’s younger brother Naru is also a great supporting actor.
It’s safe to say that the soundtrack of the film is suitably mellow and there aren’t any dance numbers within the film which break up the narrative and take away from the subject at hand. This is a refreshing feel to a story with such an important moral message. Having said that, songs such as Gori Tu Lath Maar, Bakheda and Hans Mat Pagli are easy listens and fit well into the story.
Singh has brought an important issue to light with ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’ which should resonate with those in Indian villages, should those audiences get to see the film. The change that has inevitably been provoked will hopefully go on for some time. In the mean time, only flaw in this film is that the base love story seems to take up some time in the narrative which perhaps could have been freed up. Whilst is in understandable why the characters and foundation of the “issue” needed to be rightly embedded into the audiences’ minds before the story moved forward and a stand was taken, it seems quite long to have almost a full first half just on the development of the romance. Having said that, ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’ is an entertaining watch and manages to keep the audience’s attention in the most part.
BizAsiaLive.com rating: 4/5