Remember when the film ‘Toilet – Ek Prem Katha’ was released? It was one of the rare occasions where a movie with the social message was produced by a mainstream Bollywood banner that also received a good response from the audience. The movie revolved around a married woman who left her husband and refused to stay at her in-law’s house as it didn’t have a toilet.
Rarely have we seen a protagonist who fights for her hygiene rights. Sanitation never formed the nucleus of a story earlier, and people never bothered to talk about it. This movie helped in passing the message and sensitize audience about the importance of sanitation. Inspired by a true story of Anita Narre of Madhya Pradesh, it struck a chord with the audience. It made people aware of the importance of sanitation and has helped people in addressing the issue and appreciating the efforts made by the government.
But soon it was dismissed as ‘pro-government propaganda’ by ‘film critics’? The film which talks about open defecation and a woman’s fight to right to a toilet inside the home was called propaganda because of Modi government’s emphasis on constructing a toilet to every home to bring an end to open defecation. In Outlook, Stuti Agarwal wrote,
The movie, that has a fairly engaging first half with the stalker-ish romance between the twenty something Jaya and middle aged Keshav, soon starts to stink of pro-government propaganda. It is little short of a public service campaign that got stretched into a 175 minutes movie; and when the film refers to toilet scam, and even slips in a lauding reference to demonetisation, one wonders if the government could have considered waving off the entertainment tax on this one.
In The New Indian Express, Aditya Shrikrishna wrote,
Suddenly, there are sermons, news channels, interviews and government officials populating a world that’s grown too big for its own good.
Even a Chief Minister is brought in to make the most cringe-worthy reference that pushes everything into the realms of propaganda.
Giving the film 2 out of 5 ratings, the reviewer said,
The film not only tips its hat to the ruling government but also absolves the government of all its responsibilities. Sabhyata (civilization) is the problem it says, not the government or bureaucracy.
ScoopWhoop even went so far to call it ‘ass-licking’.
But the suffocating level of ass-licking on display kneecaps any legitimate chance the film had at embracing social satire.
Toilet informs us that it is based on the story of Anita and her husband Shivram. That’s funny though since Anita’s potty revolution took place two years before the Narendra Modi government came to power, yet this film pointedly sets its heroine’s actions in Modi’s time, implies credit to him and is, in fact, an ode to the present prime minister cleverly disguised as an ode to sanitation instead.
It is a pity that director Shree Narayan Singh chose to soil his film with pro-government propaganda, because until the Modi spiel sneaks up on us in the second half, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha drives home an important – even if simplistically handled – point.
Essentially, Toilet – Ek Prem Katha was given a thumbs down by ‘critics’ because ‘it was a pro-Modi propaganda’. This when the movie put out a disclaimer that the film is inspired by the real-life story of Anita Narre from Madhya Pradesh. But a fictionalised version of her story, taking creative liberties, becomes ‘propaganda’ because it is set in the post-2014 era.
Anushka Sharma and Varun Dhawan starrer Sui Dhaaga is set to release on 28th September. From the trailer, it seems like a story about a journey of entrepreneurship, of a man and woman trying to be self-reliant and in the process creating something that is ‘made in India’.
Here are some of the portions of the trailer that stand out.
Sui Dhaaga is a story about Mauji (Varun Dhawan) whose grandfather was into tailoring business but after his grandfather’s death, his family is forced to shut down the business. Mauji is forced to take up a job where he is subjected to humiliation. Mauji is married to Mamta (Anushka Sharma) who is an embroiderer. She nudges him to find a respectable work (job) instead of facing the daily humiliation at his current workplace. The couple with their sewing machine is able to get work of stitching garments but they are reluctant to make clothes for ‘Made In China’ label. They struggle to get their own label Sui-Dhaaga –Made In India and their story is about given the due recognition to Indian embroiderer and artists. The affable pairing of the duo and the storyline from the trailer has already appealed to the people.
The story of an unemployed youth who struggles and creates his own successful venture is bound to inspire youths to realize their entrepreneurial dreams. It talks about real problems close to home. So will Anushka Shama, like Akshay Kumar, get flak for propagating Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign? Will she be trolled and called names, like ‘Bhakt’, which Kumar sometimes get called now because of his pro-India views, for being part of a movie which incidentally fictionalises initiatives taken up by the Narendra Modi government, like startup India and encouraging small businesses through Mudra loans.
Going by the trend, with less than 20 days to release of Sui Dhaaga, we can only ask Anushka Sharma and Varun Dhawan to brace themselves for the abuses coming their way for being part of a ‘pro-Modi propaganda piece’.