Actor Akshay Kumar’s latest Bollywood offering, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, might have been embraced by the audience for its subject, resulting in its commercial success, but the film has been panned by critics who felt it appeared more of a government-propaganda vehicle than anything else.
Even as Akshay maintained throughout the film’s promotions that it was primarily a love story with the issue of sanitation serving as a backdrop, many reviewers noted that the film’s second half looks agenda-driven, an advertisement for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan.
At the success meet of Toilet Ek Prem Katha today, when asked to comment on the criticism, Akshay said, “If the government is saying the same thing which is good and if you call that a propaganda then okay we are doing propaganda. I believe building a toilet is extremely important, especially for women.”
Akshay is on a roll at the box-office lately with successes like Airlift, Jolly LLB, Rustom and now, Toilet Ek Prem Katha, but at the same there is a growing scepticism around his film choices as a section of media and audience feels the actor is cleverly cashing in on the wave of nationalism that has caught the country after BJP came to power in 2014. If Airlift and Rustom had Akshay’s characters being hailed as patriots, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and his upcoming movie, Padman, project him as the championing social issues like sanitation and women’s health.
The actor, however, asserted that he is merely bringing forth social issues and his efforts should not be construed as a propaganda.
“I am talking about sanitary pads in Padman and you’ll be sad to know that 91 percent women don’t use it because they can’t afford it as it’s expensive. To talk about such things, bring them in the forefront isn’t propaganda. You basically want such issues to be highlighted and be talked about.”
Padman, based on a real-life story, is about Coimbatore-based entrepreneur Arunachalam Murugunatham, who invented a sanitary napkin making machine. The film is being directed by R Bali and also stars Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte.