There is quite a bit of pressure on Shree Narayan Singh’s Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, the Akshay Kumar–starrer that releases this Friday. This is Kumar’s third film of 2017 – after (a supporting role in) Naam Shabana and Jolly LLB 2. Technically, and not for the first time either, Kumar has been the most successful star as far as the box-office is concerned this year. Last year, he had Rustom, Airlift and Housefull 3, too – all hits of varying degrees. Rustom even went on to win the National Award.
Both the Khans – Salman and Shah Rukh – have had solo films releases in the last month. Both were critically panned and didn’t exactly set the box-office on fire, at least in comparison to their previous hits over the years. Toilet: Ek Prem Katha comes on the heels of a fairly bleak summer in Hindi cinema. There has been no conventional super hit in 2017 yet.
The big directors have had a tough time bringing the audiences into the cinemas. Except for Aamir Khan, there seem to be no 1990s superstars still in complete command over the audience pulses. Which is why 49-year-old Akshay Kumar, in his 25th year in the industry as an actor, has often been called ‘bankable’. For every content-oriented and social entertainer like Toilet, Airlift, Jolly LLB 2 and Baby, there has been a Housefull 3, Singh is Bliing, Brothers and Gabbar is Back.
The Toilet: Ek Prem Katha trailer has garnered more than 28 million views on Youtube since its release – one of the highest this year. It tells the story of a village man who decides to revolutionize India’s rural sanitation system after his wife (Bhumi Pednekar) leaves him for not having a toilet in his house. There are shots of Kumar making the rounds of government offices and giving rousing monologues. He is presumably driving home the message to eradicate the open-defecation-in-public-areas mindset. He also aims to awaken his village (and his own father) to the importance of bridging the gender gap by having in-built private toilets.
The CBFC, however, passed the film with a U/A Certificate with no less than 8 verbal cuts. This includes four cuss words, certain dialogues and a reference to bulls and Janeau (the holy white thread worn by Brahmins).
Box-office predictions of the film peg it to earn around INR 14 crore on the first day. This could be a major boost, given that the budget isn’t as much as most of the big-budget films that have released lately. A first week of more than 30 crores could take it into the Jolly LLB 2 category (which earned more than double its budget). This could only further cement Akshay Kumar’s growing reputation as perhaps the most reliable older star of this generation. At least, until the next Aamir Khan film is released.
Read more about Toilet: Ek Prem Katha's promotional strategy here, and don't forget to check our blog for the review.