Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, whose forthcoming movie "Toilet: Ek Prem Katha" stresses the importance of building toilets and ending open defecation, hopes the film changes people's mindset about this "taboo topic in Indian society".
Akshay told the media here: "Talks on toilet are still taboo in India. I remember when I had to say a dialogue in the film which is, 'Ab biwi ghar aaye na aye, sundaas to laakar hi chhodunga is gaon mein', people were rethinking if I should say it or not. But as an individual, I think it is necessary... I mean who does not go to the toilet?"
However, he is hopeful that things will change.
"Our youth is very strong minded. They understand the necessity of using the toilet. Some people are starting to talk about it, which is great... It means awareness has been created. See, it is also about the mindset. In places where I have gone, I heard people saying, 'We don't do it (defecate) in the same house where we cook food'.
"But how can they openly defecate on the field, from where the food is coming? The government is doing its part (by sanctioning public toilets)... People should also take a step."
Directed by Shree Narayan Singh, the film also features Bhumi Pednekar and is releasing on August 11.
Considering the fact that the film industry is going through a rough patch and that footfalls in theatres are decreasing, Akshay was asked if the ticket price is one of the reasons for that. He said: "But then regional films and Hollywood films are doing well. If the ticket price is not affecting their business, then why ours? Maybe content is responsible then."
Whether it is "Airlift", "Rustom", "Jolly LLB 2" and even "Toilet: Ek Prem Katha", Akshay is acting in stories that project realism.
Asked if that is a strategy, the National Award-winning actor said: "If you are talking about issue-based stories like 'Toilet...', I think to be a successful actor by the grace of God, if my association gives the film a better mileage and if the story intrigued me, I do it.
"I got to know from research statistics that one child dies every five minutes in our country because of open defecation. Do you understand the intensity of the issue? That apart, if there's any story that is interesting, I do it."