Based on a very serious problem that plagues a modern India – defecation in open, Toilet – Ek Prem Katha makes a brave attempt at social satire. Despite being icky, we cannot deny the interest this subject evokes. We saw a fantastic film surrounding a similar subject in PIKU. While we cringed at it grossness, it became a household hit. Toilet, on the other hand, is tricky with all its gravitas.
The story is set in and around Mathura. An admittedly middle-aged Akshay Kumar as Keshav falls for a young and fiery Bhumi Pednekar as Jaya. The first half is spent brewing their love story as they beat all odds of differences in age, education, family beliefs etc. Humour is the obvious and the only refuge to such a story, hence its importance is undeniable. Sadly good dialogues are far and few and fail to act as a backbone to the narrative. The songs are too literal and too many. A well captured UP and the believable chemistry between the lead pair is what keeps the first half on track.
The second half can be called everything from a political propaganda, a cultural debate, a stretched TV campaign to a forced lecture but not good cinema. The narration gets over burdened by the social message and completely loses the plot. It is stretched beyond its capacity and it ends hurriedly with an obvious yet sudden climax. It almost feels like the makers realized the paucity of time a little too late in the day to choose a better ending over fewer songs.
Akshay Kumar carries on his usual brilliance with his series of ‘relevant cinema’. Bhumi Pednekar is as comfortable and warm as we saw her last, although she is almost on the verge of being typecast. Divyendu Sharma is a breath of fresh air amidst all this heavy drama.
What could have been a powerful social drama gets derailed by a clumsy execution. It is interesting to see India cinema picking up such challenging subjects, how we wish they would have packaged it better. The only thing that works for TEPK is its powerful ensemble.