Let Bollywood movie not be a victim of anti-Modi syndrome

By now many of us have watched the movie Toilet-Ek Prem Katha and much of the content has been discussed over print and online media. With more than 100 crore, the movie is being said to
be the second most successful movie of this year.

Toilet Ek Prem Katha Review : Akshay & Bhumi rocks in hilarious comedy
Source : Koimoi

Without talking much about the script, storyline let’s get into all sorts of reviews floating in our mainstream media on the movie.

Let us look into those parts of the movie where our few popular newspapers couldn’t look into.

Out of the many reviews, the movie has been called as a pro government propaganda movie. It has been criticised for propagating PM Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, ridiculed for chamchagiri, accused of – twisting political facts, fake feminism and few more.

Victims to the anti-Modi syndrome

Whatever the reason being, some of the positive messages that this movie conveys has not yet been given light to in our popular media culture. Victims to the anti-Modi syndrome, they fail to see the true social message this movie has attempted to convey.

The movie which seems preachy to some, repeatedly highlights issues like open defecation and sanitation prevailing in the county even after 70 years of independence and also does not shy away from talking in favor of the government’s cleanliness campaign.

Of course, why should not one talk about open defecation

What better platform than a bollywood movie in a country like India to promote cleanliness campaign? Be it any government what should matter more to us is the cause behind its policies and campaign.

Therefore, talking about such campaigns that have been there for the larger good of the citizens through movies is the best way we can create the awareness about them.

Let Bollywood movie not be a victim of anti-Modi syndrome
Source : Daily Post India

The movie smells of pro government propaganda to those who couldn’t rise beyond their biased political ideologies to look into the most fundamental problems of sanitation that still
exist in rural India today and which the movie has successfully drawn our attention to.

Can a BBC documentary or a serious critic’s movie have the same far reaching effects as a bollywood love- story on the common masses of rural India where the problem of open defecation really exists.

However the movie doesn’t claim to be a documentary on sanitization, It is understandably a strong love story which manages to strike a balance between entertaining and educating.

Is lack of toilets in the country people’s fault?

Toilet-Ek Prem Katha perhaps is the first love story entwined over the issue of toilet and nothing sells more than love stories here. Let it be screened wide and large throughout the length and
breadth of the country and then see how it really creates the required awareness on sanitation in rural India. Some of the criticisms also indicate that the movie repeatedly shows us that the lack
of toilets in the country is people’s fault and not that of the government’s.

Possibly, they misunderstood the message that follows- the unwillingness among the people of specific villages
in building toilets in their homes is seen due to superstitions despite the need and awareness to build one.

Instead, women have been brought to forefront to address this issue.

We see how women never realized the problem of open defecation actually existed until the female protagonist Bhumi Pednekar nags the women of the village in one of the scenes how women themselves are to be blamed for their problems of sanitation.

Movie starkly criticizes the superstitions

Falling out of the Akshay fan group, I have not seen much of his movies therefore I cannot comment on his being a nationalist hero as he is being clearly termed after this movie by some of our popular newspapers. Watch it and you see the movie starkly criticizes the superstitions among the upper caste Brahmins, it boldly challenges the unquestioned authority of the village
priests and heads….

I was actually expecting the Shiv Sena, VHP and also RSS men to object the mockery of the Brahmins and Hindu customs done in the movie!

Here comes most ridiculous criticism

Out of all the criticisms, this one seems to be the most ridiculous one, a columnist of Indian Express in her movie review wrote that you should not make the strong feminist ideal of your movie touch anybody’s feet!

I am totally flabbergasted by this thought. How does it make
you less feminist/empowered/liberal when you touch your elder’s feet? As long as it is not enforced upon anybody, what wrong or harm it does in following one’s traditions? And that is actually what attempted to convey in the movie.

Movie successfully shows what it actually means to be a strong empowered woman

Through this girl Jaya (female protagonist – Bhumi Pedneker) in the movie, we see what it actually means to be a strong empowered woman!

Besides being an educated, independent girl marrying a guy whom she loves we also see her respecting her in laws as well as objecting when things were enforced upon her.

As a newly-wed we see her in veil as per her own choice and at the same time we see her objecting to the veil when it is being enforced upon her. That really impresses how the idea of empowerment has been shown!

Along with wife, the husband too evolved as a man

Besides Jaya, Keshav the male protagonist is also seen evolving through the character of a husband.

The typicalities of a male asking the wife to compromise and adjust like all other women of the village do are explicitly shown and gradually we see how the patriarchal mindset of the husband evolves over discussions with wife to understand the problems being faced by the wife.

The movie has also succeeded in highlighting the clichés of that of a ‘angreji padhi-likhi bahu’.

Rather than just painting the padhi-likhi bahu in a negative light, where bahu breaks the family and encourages the husband to settle away from the parents.

We see how the bahu discourages the husband from the idea of settling away from the parents and worked with patience to change the mindsets that finally brings the family back together.

A Bollywood movie successfully delivering a social message

A bollywood commercial movie’s purpose is entertainment and it’s here the movie successfully serves its purpose. With that this movie also aspires to convey a social message which it does convey to a far good extent.

Other than the duration, overall the movie does a great job in integrating a social message with entertainment, shunning away superstitions that sadly still exist in our country.

To those who find it preachy, I ask them what more do you expect when you address a much debatable topic like “open defecation”?



Posted by Rani Singh

Rani Singh, a PhD candidate at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Her research areas are India-China relations, media and public opinion. She writes on social and current trends and media analysis. Studying public opinion, public attitudes, mindset shaped by media is her passion. She is good at learning new languages and new culture. Fluent in English, Mandarin and Hindi she understands most of the dialects of Hindi spoken in Northern India. Good at public speaking and presentation, she has represented India as an exchange student in China on several occasions. She has a very rich experience of translation, interpretation and analysis. She has worked as a full time Chinese Interpreter for Government of India. Presently, she is pursuing her research at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

This article has 3 Comments

  1. Well put together!! The essence of the movie, doesn’t matter if it follows Modi Wave or it is Anti-Modi, was to bring out the social message in a way People reach out to see it!! Judging it just to counter the Modi is just not right!! The article has very well highlighted the actual social message the movie tried to cater irrespective of being a Modi-Bhakt or Anti-Modi Gang!

  2. Worth Sharing.

    Let Bollywood movie not be a victim of anti-Modi syndrome. Sharp Review my friend Rani Singh.

    Being from Village , have seen the pain and suffer of not having toilet at home. Specially for women who live under 1000 of social pressure. Don’t politicize the content and let the filmmakers take the credit for such a good movie.

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