Toilet Ek Prem Katha review: Akshay's, Bhumi's performances fail to save film from becoming bore fest
Toilet Ek Prem Katha is based on the true story of a woman leaving her husband after his family refuses to build a toilet for her. Photograph: (Bollywoodlife.com)
Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is a satirical romantic comedy, starring Akshay Kumar and Bhumi Pednekar in the lead. Directed by Shree Narayan Singh, the movie is based on the issue of the lack of toilet facilities leading to open defecation that is still happening in many parts of the country. Prime Minister’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan campaign also plays a major factor in the story. While the message that the movie intends to deliver is fine, will it really mesh well with the review? Read our review to find out…
What’s it about
The storyline of Toilet Ek Prem Katha is no mystery. Based on a true story of a woman leaving her husband after his family refuses to construct a toilet for her, this Akshay Kumar – Bhumi Pednekar drama tries to build up a narrative around the incident and lace it with light moments. Akshay plays Keshav the husband whose father believes in every superstition and religious occult in the book. Bhumi who plays Jaya is his nemesis, an educated girl who stands out like a fish out of water in a village where women organise ‘Lota Parties’ to defecate in the open and discuss their marriage woes. The clash between Keshav and Jaya goes beyond ideologies and comes down to basic beliefs and values. Their idea of hygiene and sanitation is based on the principles their parents have instilled in them. Jaya refuses to live with Keshav until he constructs a toilet in his house while the villagers and elders believe that doing so is an open challenge to age old morals and religious doctrines. Toilet Ek Prem Katha is an attempt to make a full-length film out of a 15-minute public service announcement, which is why it feels so stretched and invariably long in the second half. However, there are a few redeeming factors that make Toilet worth a watch. Let’s find out what.
Akshay Kumar has aced versatility like no one else. His choice of films and the characters he’s played over the last few years have showcased that he can approach any subject with utmost dedication. With Toilet Ek Prem Katha, Akshay uses his natural charm to his advantage making Keshav likeable. Despite the gaping holes in the script and over the top preachy monologues, Akshay keeps you engaged with his act. His scenes with his father and the outburst in front of the villagers are the highlight. But the star of the film for me was Bhumi Pednekar. She makes Jaya seem real not just superficially with the dialect and look, but her agony, pain and anger is utterly relatable. You don’t necessarily have to be from a small town or village to empathise with her. Bhumi also holds her ground in several big scenes with Akshay. Having established the fact that he’s playing an older man their pairing doesn’t look weird. Ample research has gone down in ensuring the film touches upon the right facts and figures and most of this information is downright shocking. Toilet is an important film solely because it addresses such a basic issue that has been veiled under the lace of social embarrassment. Also, full marks to the dialect coaches of ensuring all characters are in sync with their accents.
Toilet has a weak and shaky second half. It is so stretched and agonisingly painful that you just might take multiple loo breaks before the end credits roll in. The makers go overboard in ensuring the commercial viability of the film by putting in too many songs and dramatic face offs post interval. Keshav and Bhumi who felt real and empathetic in the first half become nagging and annoying in the second. Also despite having an important message to convey the film gets too preachy and serious towards the end. Keshav’s scenes with his father have such loud over the top background music that you feel a TV soap is being played out on the big screen. Also the message of the film could have been a 15-minute public service announcement, perhaps it would have championed the cause better? But to have a two and half hour long film about sanitation and defecation problems starts losing its sheen on the entertainment quotient. The songs like I mentioned don’t really add any value to the story neither do they help the tempo of the film.
What to do
Toilet Ek Prem Katha is too long and preachy. Despite standout performances by Akshay and Bhumi the film fails to engage or connect with you largely because of its snail paced tempo and long Sunday school styled monologues.