Akshay Kumar has been on an awareness overdrive about different social issues on his social media channels and his films of late. We chatted him up on his latest film, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and a few controversies too.
Why did you sign up for Toilet: Ek Prem Katha?
The basics are taught by parents and mostly children learn by watching them. My film is basically is about the thinking of people. How important it is to have a toilet in the house. Do you know that 54% people in India don't have toilets and it affects women badly? There are villages in India where women have to trek a distance of about three kilometres before sunrise just for using the toilet. They can't go to take a dump before sunset. God forbid if they are sick, imagine what they have to go through! There are cases of rape, molestation and MMS videos made by local thugs as women are made to defecate in the open. We must stop all this. The first step is to understand that not having toilets is the root cause of this issue. I want this film to create awareness and this is why I decided to do this film.
Were you aware it was such a huge problem before you did the film?
I was not that aware. I didn't know that it was such a huge problem. I learnt about the figure and facts after reading the script of the film. The script was going around for four years and people were sceptical about doing the film. I immediately said yes to it.
Are you taking this film to the villages?
We are trying to publicise the film everywhere. We want to show it on mobile theatres at the villages. It is a fun film but giving out a real message and is based on the real stories. I am glad that the media is supporting the film too. If the film creates a difference then it means that film is successful.
We heard it is a remake of a Tamil film...
It is not a remake of any film but a collection of real-life incidents.
Will people listen to you?
Recently, I caught a man on the beach defecating and I told him to leave that place and pick his dirt and throw it in the toilet. He told me he doesn't enjoy being in the toilet. He prefers to sit in the open. Now people are scared to come on the beach because I caught hold of them. The government gives them money to build toilets. Even in the film we have shown that we return the money because it is our duty to build toilets. There are people who cannot afford to build toilets. Why don't they do it? Because they don't want to spend on one. I think people will listen to me, this film and the social message it wants to deliver.
Tell us more about the cause of Army widows that you are working for.
I met the widows of the Army men and they had tears in their eyes. In two and half months we gathered Rs 1.45 crore and the women were given the money. The money was transferred into their accounts directly.
What are your forthcoming movies?
I am playing a villain in Robot 2. I am doing Goldie and Bhushan Kumar's Mogul.
You attended the Women's cricket match in London recently…
Yes, and I watched the doubles match at Wimbledon too. I believe that it won’t be long before the men and women get together to play a competitive cricket match in India.
There was a controversy when you unfurled the flag wrongly at Lords at the women's world cup finals?
It was unfurled upside down and someone clicked a picture even though I immediately corrected myself. It was mistake, I didn't check and I have already said that I am sorry. I should have checked.