Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, The Real Story


Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, The Real Story

Illustration: Mandar Mhaskar

Set against the backdrop of Jhajharoo, a fictional village in Gujarat, the ambitiously layered film charts the journey of Jignesh bhai, a simple Indian toilet. Jignesh’s day ends and begins at the village’s sole Sulabh Sauchalaya, where he is tasked with taking the bowel movements of villagers and putting them into the ground. It isn’t the most glorious job, but it is something for Jignesh to make a living out of. Plus it’s hard to get a job in a bank when you are a commode.

Jignesh’s father, who is a hole in the ground covered with leaves, is an overbearing man. He believes his son should marry a toilet within the community, and work at the Sulabh Sauchalaya all his life. But Jignesh wants more. He often wakes up with nightmares about “butter chicken” or “corn masala”.

The mornings are the hardest for Jignesh, as villagers line up to empty their insides on his face. Sometimes he gets tired and decides to run out of water, leaving villagers in despair. Sometimes he drops only half of his day’s load into the ground, leaving a couple to hang there for the next person to come in and discover.

The turning point of the film comes when one day, Jignesh decides he’s had enough. Instead of taking his usual route to the Sauchalaya, he secretly ducks out to listen to a rally in the neighbouring village. There he listens to a speech delivered by none other than the prime minister – a man who champions cleanliness in all aspects – and his life changes forever. The PM speaks about the significance of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. “Toilets can achieve anything they set their minds to,” he says.

That day Jignesh feels he is destined for something bigger. Soon after, the Sulabh’s head toilet calls Jignesh for a meeting. The head Sulabh tells him about a few vacancies in a hotel in a nearby town. The manager of that toilet is looking for a young Indian toilet he could train to be a western toilet one day, and they think maybe Jignesh would want the job.

Jignesh swivels himself to get a better look, and sees the most beautifully chiseled ceramic toilet he’s ever seen.

An excited Jignesh accepts by flushing himself repeatedly, and soon starts his new job at the hotel. But life as a city toilet is not as glamorous as he hoped it would be. He realises he is the only Indian commode in the hotel, possibly even the whole town. All the other commodes are western. “I’m just as good as any of you,” he yells at them. All he gets is cruel laughter.

“Stop picking on the new guy!” Jignesh suddenly hears a voice in the background. “I like Indian toilets. I think they’re kinda cute.” The laughter fades and the other toilets go back to grooming themselves.

Jignesh swivels himself to get a better look, and sees the most beautifully chiseled ceramic toilet he’s ever seen. Her flush handle is made of marble and dotted with gems. She has a suede-lined seat that has both a dryer and a massage option. Jignesh suddenly feels conscious about the fact that he’s an Indian toilet. He feels inferior in every aspect. He tries to stand taller than the woman toilet, dropping his load all over the place.

But Penal ben is a benevolent commode. She tells him that true beauty lies on the inside, and in how well he is able to flush it down. “No point having a lovely ceramic commode if you freeze at the important times,” she tells him. As the two commodes lock bum showers, they know this is the start of something special. Over the next two months, Penal ben and Jignesh fall in love. Soon they are ready to take the plunge. They match their toilet kundalis and live happily ever after, one asshole at a time.

End movie.

According to a family fortune teller, Akshay Kumar plays the role of a lifetime – that of a misunderstood bhakt toilet. In fact, he plays the role with such finesse that it’s almost impossible to tell whether he’s acting or is actually a commode. As the famous saying goes, “When your career is yellow, let it mellow. When your career is brown, flush it down.”