Keshav (Akshay Kumar) is a 36-year-old man who is a 12th failure and runs a cycle store along with his brother Naru (Divyendu Sharma) in rural Uttar Pradesh. His father whom the brothers call Panditji (Sudhir Pandey) is an orthodox Hindu Brahmin who believes strictly in things like vaastu, kundli, and sanskaar. Keshav meets Jaya (Bhumi Pednekar) outside a train toilet where they have an argument about sanitation which makes Keshav fall for her. Shortly after some stalking and following, he makes Jaya fall for him too and they get married. The problem starts when Jaya is flabbergasted by the fact that Keshav doesn’t have a toilet in his home and neither does anyone else in the village. Now all she demands is that a toilet be made in their house as she won’t give up to the narrow mindedness of the villagers including Keshav’s family.
How is Keshav going to deal with the situation? Will he be able to convince his orthodox father to build up a toilet in their house? How will this affect his relationship with Jaya?
Positive points: –
- While having a toilet in one’s house seems a normal thing to us, the ground reality is that it’s a luxury for quite many rural people in India who either can’t afford it or do not want it as they don’t believe in defecating in the same house where they live and eat. Shoutout to the makers and the actors of the film for creating a movie as important as this in an apt time.
- Any movie with social messages always blames the govt in power for all the troubles of the common man. Toilet: EK Prem Katha deviates from this quintessential narrative and exposes the flaws of the common man and his false ideals, holding him equally responsible for the dire situation he is in.
- The movie is powered by powerful performances by the cast especially Akshay Kumar, Bhumi Pednekar, Divyendu Sharma and Sudhir Pandey. All the 3 male actors aforementioned are known to have great comic timings and their jugalbandi onscreen is worth the money. Pednekar proves it that she isn’t a one-movie wonder and is here to stay.
- Shree Narayan Singh’s direction as well as Siddharth-Garima’s screenplay has been impressive for most of the runtime.
Negative points: –
- Stalking is not a good recipe for a love story and I (sadly) don’t think that Bollywood is going to get this fact any sooner.
- I seriously wish that Bollywood spends less money on its actors and more on the production value. Had it been so we wouldn’t have had the headache of seeing poor special effects and fake backgrounds instead of real locations.
- The movie is mostly engaging but I still believe that a significant amount of its 2-and-a-half-hour runtime could have been reduced primarily by cutting down the songs in the film.
Direction, Script and Other Technicalities: –
Shree Narayan Singh is nearly flawless in his direction as he not only uses his actors’ talents skilfully but also manages to wipe out the screenplay flaws rather effectively. Siddharth-Garima have done a wonderful job with the screenwriting eventhough I couldn’t accept the pre-marriage love story of the leads which was heavily built on stalking on both the sides. In a real-lie scenario, a girl like Jaya could never have liked Keshav forget about stalking him back! I also couldn’t believe that Jaya didn’t know about the toilet issue of Keshav’s village because for a guy like Keshav, it would be very obvious to have mentioned his kheth mein sauch ke kisse for I know how shameless guys are and how girls enjoy such silly stories of men. Nonetheless, the script is well crafted for the rest of the film with sheer honesty and awesome innuendos. The comic elements have been well merged with the seriousness of the issue and the dialogues are hard-hitting at times.
Poor SFX may not have helped much but Anshuman Mahaley scores brownie points for his cinematography. I liked his idea of focusing the camera completely on Kumar in his outburst sequence, deviating from the regular style of shifting the screen between the speaker and the listeners. Kuddos to a small but substantial innovation! The music is not only a disappointment in the movie but also an unnecessary element in it. It’s time we made decisions on when to include songs and when not to.
Akshay Kumar’s performance in this film is his best in a long time. He is perfectly natural and his dynamicity between comedy and seriousness is praiseworthy.
Divyendu Sharma is not only lovable but his comic insight is terrific. He doesn’t let himself be sidelined by Kumar’s onscreen persona and popularity and cheers to him for that.
Sudhir Pandey is one of the fewest actors in the country who are expert in both comic and non-comic acts. Seeing a thespian of his stature sharing screen with 2 wonderful comic actors was no less than fireworks for us and we loved it!
Bhumi Pednekar has proved it yet again that she needn’t be glamorous in order to showcase her acting chops. She is simply outstanding in her character!
Anupam Kher, Shubha Khote, Rajesh Sharma and Atul Srivastava have all done good in their respective roles.
Final Verdict: –
Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is the most important film of the year in terms of social issues and has come up front at the right time. The film has its set of flaws but they are pretty unimportant and minor with respects to its performances, direction and message. It’s a one-time watch at most yet a must-watch.