I Used To Find Open Defecation ‘Fun’, But ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’ Changed My Mind

Posted by Vandana Anil Dass in Society
October 2, 2017

When I began watching the movie, I did not know what to expect. I was hoping to laugh and have fun. However, some of the scenes really brought tears to my eyes, mainly because the real struggle is more than usually expressed in the movies. Well, I would agree that until today, I did not know what the issue was. It’s not the government or corruption that the people had to fight with, but with ideologies.

As children, we often visited our paternal village for festivals. Needless to say that there was no toilet and we had to go to the fields to relieve ourselves. Growing up in the city, we were used to going to the toilet whenever we felt like and it would be difficult for us to go early morning, and mostly, we would end up visiting the ‘fields’ again. I didn’t feel much shame because it was fun.

However, we always noticed that my mother did not go to the toilet for the entire duration of our stay. She was mocked at but she grew up in a city and could never go to fields or even the train toilets for that matter. Today, I can understand her pain. She never cried or fought about it but she managed as it was just for a few days.

The movie reminded me of an incident which had shocked me. And more than the incident, it was the women’s laughter that shocked me. One of the ladies was apparently bitten by a snake on her butt and died. Yes, this was a matter of gossiping and laughing. In a dire situation, I don’t mind defecating in the open. However, after watching this movie, I now have zero tolerance for any excuse for the absence of this basic facility for people. Like the male lead in the movie says, “Nobody wants to question unless the issue becomes personal!”

I was really surprised to see that the major resistance is from people themselves, women being insensitive towards the needs of other women. No government can teach people to use toilets.

For many, who might have thought that elderly people did not understand the need, I would like to end this by sharing an incident that happened more than two decades before Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. In the year 1993, when my eldest sister got married, her husband was stationed in a village called Rajpura, and guess what’s the first thing her father-in-law got done after her marriage was fixed? He got a toilet constructed. A humble man, who could think of a solution for a city girl.

I hope that this movie has made some difference in people’s lives!


Image source: YouTube