STARRING: AKSHAY KUMAR, BHUMI PEDNEKAR, SUDHIR PANDEY, DIVYENDU SHARMA, ANUPAM KHER
DIRECTOR: SHREE NARAYAN SINGH
It is very rare that Bollywood comes out with films with relevant issues at the core and then have the courage to take it all the way. Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is every bit as quirky and straightforward as the title but overstays its welcome for far too long.
Writers Siddharth-Garima need to be lauded for coming up with a concept so relevant and important for this country and to integrate with all the Bollywood formulas of romance and humor. And they do a good job of it for the most parts. The first half keeps you thoroughly entertained with its generous dosage of some well done and relatable comedy sequences which keeps the energy levels high also the romance is uniquely executed which keeps you interested in the plot.
Once the issue is broached, it is done in such an unassuming and direct manner that it makes a strong impact. The issues raised are something that an average urban audience may not be entirely aware of it and even if it is then it is unlikely that we understand the magnitude of the issue. The writers do an impeccable job of understanding the mindset of the problem and goes into detail. It is woven into the screenplay interestingly and until the interval the writers have fun with the issue keeping the seriousness of the issue intact.
The second half however, is nothing compared to the first. You would think that after brilliantly setting up the issue, the film will take the debate forward. But unfortunately, it just keeps bating around the same bush. When same issue is hammered multiple times, it starts to get repetitive and boring. There are some interesting moments but the exaggerated length of the film dampens the impact. It just runs for too long without saying anything new. The preachiness also gets to you after a while.
Also, another issue is the usually headstrong film loses its teeth in the second half. Its reluctance to critique the present government just dampens the show. They want to raise every issue related to sanitation in the country but dare they say that the government is at fault anywhere. It becomes ridiculous after a while. It is justified to blame the archaic mindset and all for the problems but just blaming it and hoping that just changing the mindset will solve all the issue seems immature and unfair and frankly escapism.
Director Shree Narayan Singh has done a good job with a complicated film like this. He gets the balance perfectly well in the first half but falls into the trap of being preachy in the second. Other than that he is successful in driving some hard hitting messages home which complete the purpose of the film. he gets the tone and language of the film just right and has handled some dramatic sequences pretty well. A decent job altogether.
The performances are the mainstay pf the film. Even in the dullest moments, the strong and charismatic lead take the film to another level. Akshay Kumar is stupendous. He gets the character just right and then adds much more to it. You are interested in the character even when he is not at his best because of Kumar’s earnest performance. Bhumi Pednekar is extremely confident and makes her presence felt even in front of seasoned actors. Divyendu Sharma and Sudhir Pandey provide able support and are hilarious in portions. Pandey especially, is competent.
Music is fun and peppy and supports the film well.
Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is hard to be disliked because of its noble intentions and for its ability to make you care about the message it tries to give. But it could have been much better.