I blogged earlier on how film has to be absolved of the burden of having to be didactic. But what if movies are made with the intention of conveying a social message? That’s exactly what came to mind when I saw the trailer of ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’, translated as ‘Toilet: A Love Story’.
The trailer suggests a film based around a romance, a strained relationship between newlyweds due to the lack of proper sanitation at the family home. It quickly appears to build into a social frenzy of revolution-like proportions where the male lead, Akshay Kumar, makes it his life’s mission to build clean toilets in his village. 600,000 of the world’s 1.7 million who die annually from unsafe water and sanitation (due primarily to open, unclean toilets) live in India.
In terms of economics, the film is backed by the country’s most bankable star and a romantic storyline with the prerequisite action sequences, delivering what is commonly called a potboiler.
At least in India, these sort of films get tax-breaks from the government. Films with such social messages may or may not change innate habits overnight, but if it inspires even one person to channel resources into making toilets more accessible to the poor, it will be a measure of its success.