800 Toilets & Counting: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Wins Over Akshay
Toilets have at last caught the imagination of our filmmakers. Primarily driven by PM Modi’s highly publicised Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, we have not one but two films revolving around the necessity to build and use toilets.
Akshay Kumar and Bhumi Pednekar’s Toilet: Ek Prem Katha has already created quite a buzz, what with the star meeting the PM to talk about the film and Pahlaj Nihalani calling for making it tax-free. But it is director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra who has already made a difference in the real world.
Mehra is not only making Mere Pyare Prime Minister, a film on the subject. But inspired by Gandhi’s model toilets at the Sabarmati Ashram, he has also been building toilets in slums since the last four years. And dig this - he has already built 800 toilets without the accompaniment of any of the usual trumpeting in the media that’s the norm these days.
And now the Mirzya director has got a NOC from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to build 20 toilets in a slum in Ghatkopar, where he is shooting Mere Pyare Prime Minister. This would include five separate toilets for men and women and teachers in two municipal schools in the Khandooba area.
What’s more, in association with the NGO, Yuva Unstoppable, Mehra has been interacting with the community at the grassroots level to increase awareness about using a toilet and the evils of open defecation.
We don’t just build toilets and walk away but we also make sure the locals maintain them. We’ve been having meetings with slum-dwellers and corporators of the area, urging them to put one rupee in the donation box so that the community workers can be given their dues. The new toilets are as good as the ones in private buildings, with proper pipelines and extensions with taps where they can get clean, drinking water.Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Director, Mere Pyare Prime Minister
He is now shooting in a slum settlement behind the Powai Lake, where he is planning to build more toilets and working to build a suitable infrastructure for it. Mere Pyare Prime Minister revolves around four kids living in a Mumbai slum. One of them wants to build a toilet for his single mother and makes an appeal to the Prime Minister.
Kudos to the filmmaker for making a real difference!