According to the box office results, it was a decently-faring film. But from a critical standpoint and reception among movie-going circles, it became a vital film. 2017’s Bollywood release, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha was declared a major hit in India. And of course, why not? After all, most movies that have in them, real stories and are away from the conventional hold of a run of the mill films are different and slated to do well.
So when Toilet Ek Prem Katha was declared a resounding hit across movie theatres in India, there was naturally, a lot of excitement for Akshay Kumar, a huge Bollywood star today. His success has surely proven that Bollywood isn’t simply about the gravitas that a Khan-film pulls.
But who would’ve thought that Akshay Kumar’s sensational 2017-hit would garner such a huge market in China? Not the most difficult market for Hollywood movies, that are, obviously in a language that China understands a great deal of, there’s this element of surprise in a Hindi film being a massive hit. For starters, there’s not been too much of a familiarity with Indian cinema, for instance, none of the Indian movies has been shot there in decades together.
In recent news, it was reported that Akshay Kumar-starrer, that also had talented actress Radhika Apte in it, gained a massive following in China, where it has been declared a super hit. Of late, there’s been no dearth of love for Indian Bollywood movies either way. China has warmed up so much and so beautifully to Indian cinema that when mega star-actor Aamir Khan’s Dangal released and hit the big screen in the Oriental-land, it garnered a landslide reception. People loved it and were dancing around to Aamir’s beats. Such massive was the fanfare that Aamir eventually took a flight and landed to China to warm up to the fans who had warmed up to his film, a blockbuster in his home country.
Of late, Toilet-A Love Story has been the common ground for Indian movie lovers and Chinese fans. And believe it or not, there’s a reason for it. It’s been known for the longest time that China had been fighting for a toilet-revolution of its own. There’s been a clear dearth of a challenge when it comes to toilets and other hygiene-related matters in China.
That is what precisely bridged the gap and got the two together. In fact, even one of the leading dailies- South China Morning Post- has hailed the Indian film suggesting that it has struck a chord with the audiences in XI Jinping-land. The movie bird on foot in China suggests that Chinese films do not particularly emphasise much on social issues and perhaps a sensitive, meaningful story-line and something is drawn on real issues that affect the society as a whole- drive audiences to a film.
In short, that is precisely the magic that the Akshay Kumar hit had. What may also have worked in India’s film’s favour is that China did not particularly think that (the realistic) existential threat regarding the shortage of public toilets would’ve been that acute in India. And that is where a chord of similarity was struck. No matter what it was, it turned out to be good and favourable toward a film that perhaps needed the encouragement it truly deserved.
Some fans who went to the movie were able to share with the media as to what they thought about Kumar’s film. And among them was a particularly keen movie critic who shared her humble two cents. “China also has toilet issues, but it still is unbelievable for us to see those Indian women relieving themselves outdoors. For Chinese women, the problem lies in public toilets – to make them cleaner and the waiting times shorter.” She would further add, “If you look at the overall box office performance in China, it’s always comedy and romance that do the best,” said the critic.