Indian film- makers keep experimenting, touching hitherto unexplored frontiers. Some time back, there was the film Piku directed by Shoojit Sircar. It was about an elderly grumpy man, a role wonderfully essayed by Amitabh Bachchan.
The actor was troubled by chronic constipation and links all his problems to his bowel movement. But a Toilet is a never ending Prem- Katha in Bharat. So obviously, the toilet has never quite been a taboo in our society. However, in a country like ours, where basic civic amenities elude people, the discussions have not kept pace with the action.
It is still very common in many homes in the hinterland not to have a proper toilet. It is this subject that the film has broached with the newly- wed leaving her husband on discovering after her marriage that his house does not have a toilet.
A toilet is a never ending Prem- Katha in Bharat. The film is no doubt inspired by the many examples from cities like Kanpur and Lucknow, among others, where the brides refused to marry as the groom’s house did not have a toilet.
In fact, as a radio jingle says in Punjabi, “jithe soch, utthe Shauchala” (toilets come up with right thinking).
Days back, this newspaper had an agency picture on its front page of a man relieving himself in front page of a poster of the film, “ Toilet: Ek Prem Katha”.
It was an apt depiction of how social messages tend to get lost because of our attitude. And a Toilet is a never ending Prem- Katha in Bharat. I was reminded of an article by the great Hindi writer Shivani in the magazine “Dharamayay” many, many years back. An acquaintance of hers had gone abroad and after landing in India, was on the way to his destination when seized by the call of nature, he stopped the vehicle.
In fact, the “no toilet, no bride” initiative was launched by the Govt. After it came into light that most of the people has access to mobile phones than toilets. Researchers revealed after conducting various case studies that Toilet is a never ending Prem- Katha in Bharat. People of backward areas don’t understand the value of toilets. But with the govt.’s clean India abhiyaan, now people understand the value of toilets.