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TOILET Ek Prem Katha - A film that remains trapped in the dilemma of being a PR project for a cause and an entertaining Hindi film. (Review by Bobby Sing)

12 Aug, 2017 | Movie Reviews / 2017 Releases

Post Madhur Bhandarkar's INDU SARKAR cleverly conceived to encash the fresh political scenario within the country, this week we have Akshay Kumar and his writer-director Shree Narayan Singh releasing their TOILET Ek Prem Katha, supporting the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’ initiated by the government of India focusing on the rural regions.
Inspired by a real-life story, no doubt this is a subject that needs to be dealt with utmost urgency by both the authorities as well as the people living in the remote areas. But sadly the film never looks like interested in making any strong, thought provoking statement conceived in a state of two minds. At one end, it wishes to entertain its audience deliberately finding humour in an otherwise serious subject and on the other, remains unwilling to showcase any corruption in the bureaucracy in order to please the authorities concerned. The writer-director and his lead actor never come out of this questionable dilemma in the entire film. And that’s the reason we get to see a strictly average product that certainly had all the elements of making an important and engrossing film spreading the urgent awareness.
TEPK also suffers with a lot of unwanted elements thrown into the narration adding to its painfully long length. For instance, the opening scenes of a break-up having no link whatsoever, a forced marriage with a buffalo, the two-thumb condition for the bride and more, seem to be solely written with a motive of presenting it as a comedy and nothing else. Moreover too many songs and almost 45 minutes initially devoted to the romance result in a pretty confused film trying to incorporate everything into the script before moving on to its key subject.
Putting it differently, the first half has its focus on light fun-filled sequences and romantic interactions giving you a fairly good time. The local ambience looks authentic and the language more or less sounds fresh in its witty one-liners. But once the film comes to its core subject, it slowly starts losing the grip becoming a brazen promotional campaign for the much publicized government scheme. The pace drops and everything becomes predictable leading to a completely unconvincing as well as a hurried climax. The much required emotional connection with the characters gets lost and all you get to see is forced songs, melodramatic sequences, unimpressive preaching and sudden change of hearts giving you a happy ending.
Above all, a few sequences are forcefully written to praise the current government’s cleanliness drive, purposefully outshining the previous one. For example, along with making a positive reference of Demonetization (that otherwise has no connection with the plot), the writers very smartly mention all the ‘Toilet Finance SCAMS’ actually happening four years back in their dialogues, clearly exposing the actual intention of the makers, largely hurting the sincerity of the film’s genuine social message.
However what remains thoroughly positive in TEPK is its rural ambience, one good song (other don’t really register) and earnest, likable performances from a well-chosen cast, particularly of Bhumi Pednekar and Divyendu Sharma to be honest. Bhumi is again lovingly refreshing in her second film playing the charming Jaya (watch her expressions) and Divyendu is just perfect as the younger brother superbly taking care of the film’s humour quotient. Sudhir Pandey is repetitive yet flawless as the superstitious father and Anupam Kher is entertaining in his short cameo of a naughty elder family member (who dreams about Sunny Leone).
Playing the lead, Akshay Kumar tries his best to look young and delivers a decent performance in his most of the sequences of the first half. But the poor writing never lets him perform any better post the intermission. Moreover he never looks like a villager in the film. A villager who dresses well (like a city boy), rides a bike, has a mobile, runs a small business, is quite intelligent and sharp at 36, but hasn’t got any toilet in his home quite strangely. For me the visual presentation of his character didn’t really match with the basic theme of the film with big contradictions.
On the other side, its indeed refreshing and good to see a major Hindi film bringing forward a bold and challenging subject like this well supported by a big Star. But a film needs to be made as a film and not as any promotional newsreel of a government campaign spreading an important social message. Executed as a propaganda kind of project actually defies its basic purpose moving into an entirely different zone, that happens to be the biggest drawback of TEPK severely hampering its spirit. I wish this was made without slipping into the documentary mode, as a light-hearted, message oriented entertainer of much shorter length.
In all, one can watch TOILET Ek Prem Katha considering it as an average film having a fairly enjoyable first half. But if you are really interested in CINEMA and this particular subject dealt in a much more hard-hitting, realistic manner, miles ahead in its thought process and execution, then watch the Tamil National Award winner JOKER (2016) and do yourself a favour.
(The article also got featured in UC-New mobile app in August 2017)


Shared below are views - Beyond the initial writeup with more interesting insights.
In mid 60s Manoj Kumar made his directorial debut with UPKAR supporting the “Jai Jawan Jai Kisaan” slogan given by the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. And the film was conceived post a suggestion given by the minister himself. Based on a script beautifully woven around the noble revolutionary thought, UPKAR never looked like a deliberately designed, made to order kind of product, also winning over the audience becoming a commercial success. 
Just a few weeks back, Madhur Bhandarkar came up with his INDU SARKAR talking about the black years of Emergency, as a cleverly planned film timely released with the sole motive of encashing the fresh political scenario within the country. 
And this week we have Akshay Kumar and his writer-director Shree Narayan Singh releasing their TOILET Ek Prem Katha, made with a clear motive of supporting the ‘Swatchh Bharat Abhiyaan’ initiated by the government authorities focusing on the rural India.
As stated in the detailed review (in the link given above) TEPK does have a light fun-filled first half providing the promised entertainment, but it becomes a PR documentary post intermission not willing to talk about any corruption or depicting the actual ground level situation of the poor villagers. 
As a result it never rises above a strictly average film more interested in pleasing than performing, that can also be referred as an at-your-face, loud promotional campaign diluting its important message.
That said, one can surely go for TOILET Ek Prem Katha as an one-time watch, message oriented entertainer led by the ‘New age Manoj Kumar’. But if you are really interested in a much more realistic, hard-hitting, and meaningful film made on the same subject, then watch the Tamil National Award winner JOKER (2016) and get seriously shocked.
Rating : 2.5 / 5 (with the additional 0.5 for the courage of choosing such an unconventional, experimental subject for a mainstream Hindi movie.)
As usual, the prices were again increased by the multiplexes for this specific film and it was indeed ironical to watch a project especially made for spreading social awareness in the country, being sold at inflated ticket prices.
Strangely neither the big names are concerned about this sick price-rise nor the viewers are, but BTC will continue deducting one star from such film’s ratings as its individual revolt.
Final Rating : 1.5 / 5

Tags : TOILET Ek Prem Katha Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Message oriented Hindi film, Inspired Film, TOILET and JOKER, Promotes Swachh Bharat Abhiyan of a Cleaner India.
12 Aug 2017 / Comment ( 0 )
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