Movie Review – Toilet Ek Prem Katha

Review in a sentence: 40 minutes too long and 4 clicks too slow.

The first 30 minutes are absolutely listless and quite frankly inane. It looked like the director was sleepwalking through this part or perhaps it was a case of the typical debutant debacles. It is still hard to wrap your head around the fact that it is very same person whose editorial credits include movies like Special 26 and A Wednesday and who also is a seasoned industry professional. Goes to show what a wide chasm it is from wielding the scissors to wielding the megaphone! Makes you wonder if it is a mandatory requirement that editors jettison their bag of tricks prior to taking over the wheel of direction! It is a both a waste of celluloid and the ever so precious time of the movie going public.

Great social message though to raise awareness about the ‘noxious’ practice of open defecation which plagues India and one which will hopefully permeate into the consciousness and resonate with large swathes of India.

Two key aspects of Indian society jump out of from the storyboard of social commentary – India’s love for and never ending tryst with ‘jugaad’ (The Indian preference for expediency over a lasting solution), and the constant and oftentimes bitter strife between ‘sanskriti’ (culture) and ‘vyaavaharavaad’ (pragmatism).

A look at the major disciplines and the performance therein.

Editing – Need I say more!

Direction – One word for it. Subpar. The direction is akin to the behavior of women folk in a scene from the movie where upon being exposed while defecating in the open they promptly cover their faces to conceal their identity but in the process leave their private parts open for viewing!

Dialogues – Evenly sprinkled with few punchy colloquialisms but by and large flat. The dialect does lend it an air of authenticity though which will appeal to the ‘heartlanders’.

Screenplay – Not taut enough (being kind here). The art is to weave a social message seamlessly into the act of storytelling. This endeavor was a quilt full of patchwork!

Music – Did not register at all in my RAM so very little chance will make its way into my SSD.

Acting: Akshay the consummate khiladi does just the bare minimum again with his unique brand of humor to mostly hold the attention of the audience.

Bhumi Pednekar definitely is an actor to be taken seriously (have held that opinion ever since her debut in Dum laga ke haisha) and she reinforces that feeling with flashes of brilliance on the odd occasion when the director has allowed her to shine through.

The veterans including Anupam Kher and Sudhir Pandey bring their weight to bear without much fuss or fanfare. Divyendu Sharma essays his role as the lovable sidekick rather satisfactorily.

In conclusion, a noble attempt nonetheless of animating a social message of undeniable import which is anemic in style yet the finished product is flabby to the point of being obese. A plug for the PM (and his Swachh Bharat Abhiyan) does go a long way indeed in pulling in the faithful and with them the cha-ching of the moolah to the box office!