Forget all those swirling songs and plots about love, heartache and family values. Bollywood has more pressing concerns
‘This is not about defecation,” says the hero of Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, which translates as Toilet: A Love Story. “It is about our whole way of thinking!” What makes this startling line all the more surprising is that it is delivered by Akshay Kumar, an actor straight out of the Bollywood A-list.
The film, as the second half of its title suggests, has no shortage of such Bollywood staples as romance and love songs. But the main subject matter is one that no Hindi film has ever tackled before: open defecation. This is a singularly Indian problem. Various studies estimate that 60% of India’s billion-plus population don’t have access to a bathroom. For women, this isn’t just a question of sanitation. It’s about safety, privacy and independence.