This is such a good movie.
The plot is exactly as the trailer shows it is. This thirty-six-year-old dude falls in love with a younger girl. They get married. The girl finds out there’s no toilet in her matrimonial house. And all hell breaks loose. The girl returns to her birth home.
A little context: our bachelor, Keshav (played by Akshay Kumar) lives in this relatively rural village. The women have to walk miles to open fields to do their toilet business before dawn or after dark while the men do their business anywhere in the village (I swear I don’t know what they did during their periods, like how?). Our heroine, Jaya, (played by Bhumi Pednekar), either lives in the same village or in the neighbouring one but has a toilet in her house, even though some women in her own village goes to the open fields as well.
So when Jaya returns to her birth home, Keshav decides to build a toilet in his house, but his father, a jerk, refuses. His father who is apparently of the highest, or one of the higher, castes, thinks it is disgusting to have a toilet in the same place you worship God.
Side note: it is people like this that give religion a bad name. And the movie addresses it very well when Keshav gets into an argument with other villagers about what the scriptures actually say. But my favourite one-liner in the entire movie is this:
You won't build a toilet in your home but you've turned the entire country into a big loo.
But anyway, Keshav decides if there’s no toilet in the house, then he might as well build one somewhere in the village and what starts off as a family issue becomes a village issue. The villagers already think Jaya leaving Keshav is an embarrassment to the village and women have never been complaining about going to the fields so Jaya is making a mountain out of a molehill. None of the villagers agree to have a toilet built in their village.
There begins Keshav’s uphill battle of trying to make a toilet in his house and village.
The story is really good. It takes a while to get there because a lot of the first half of the movie emphasizes on depicting the qualities of our characters. Keshav is not a misogynist. At thirty-six he really wants to get married. All this time, his father and his father’s beliefs about all of Keshav’s stars not being aligned has deprived him of marriage. So I can empathise with the fact that he respects ladies to some extent. (Although the movie introduces him as some sort of playboy. Hah.) But yes, he’s not vile or repulsive. He interacts with Jaya with no malice. And Jaya is shown to be a feminist. She’s bold, she’s opinionated. She has principles. She and Keshav don’t really meet in the best of circumstances, but Keshav has his saving graces. He tries to be better. He listens which I like, which is good, which is within his character. His life has been riddled with issues because of his father and he’s been finding ways around it all his entire life. So the only way to get around problems is to know the problem. So he tries to listen.
Keshav is a nice character to watch. And Jaya, her strength is nice to watch. Her faith, her love, the strength of her feminity is nicely depicted. So I’m invested in the characters and the story that’s about to happen.
The movie is done well and the dialogues of our leads are amazing. The dialogues are so hard-hitting and full of passion. So many amazing one-liners. And the best part is that none of what they’re saying feels preachy which is amazing.
It’s a good movie.
It’s not just about the toilet. It’s not just about feminism.
It’s really about progress for everyone. It’s about becoming better people. It doesn’t matter if you’re a male or female, it doesn’t matter if what you’re doing is culturally acceptable or not, what matters is being open-minded to change. And I like it.
The one thing I have an issue with, though, is Keshav’s father. See I understand what happened but how dare he act like everything’s okay at the end. Like ‘oh I made a mistake, I’m sorry, dear.’
Maybe the movie didn’t want the father’s reprieve to be melodramatic, but seriously, I am unsatisfied with his apology. For someone that was so staunchly against something for his whole life, no. I am underwhelmed by his display of remorse.
My mum was born in India. And she told me people of higher castes in her village did the same when she was growing up. They’d only leave their house at night to use the toilet once a day. Damn. And apparently, my own mum’s house didn’t have a toilet. So I asked her if she had to live by the same rules. She gave me a wide grin, “Who said I don’t leave my house in the day?” Hahahha, she was an active child, what happened to me? I love her.