Nearly 1.2 billion of households in India don’t have access to toilets, whether in rural areas or urban slums. Roughly 60 percent of the country’s still defecate in the open.
The consequences for women and girls are huge. An upcoming film Kaashi is one such story of teenage girl living in a poverty in an Indian village, she is adamant to get basic necessities of life such as getting a toilet built in her house, as she is devastated of defecting out in open farms. The film shows us how she overcomes the hardships to get a toilet constructed in her home.
Shot in India recently, ‘Kaashi film deals with social issues like Swachh Bharat and Beti Bachao Beti Phadao. Recently, Akshay Kumar’s Toilet: Ek Prem Katha released and this was also dealing with open defecation. So, how is Kaashi different?
When asked about the same, the film’s director Tushar Tyagi says, “Honestly I have been so busy in post-production of the Kaashi, I didn’t get a chance to see Toilet Ek Prem Katha yet. But, of what I read, the story line, it’s about a women who leaves her husband on the first day of marriage as he didn’t have a toilet.
“Where as in Kaashi it’s about a teenage girl (14) who is very devastated of defecation out in open farms, being from a poor family her mother doesn’t have money to get a toilet constructed in their home, and father who was the earning hand of the house died several years ago. Aware of her mother’s struggle, Kaashi takes on the responsibility of getting a toilet build in her house on her shoulders,” the director adds.
Interestingly, despite being based in LA, Tyagi chose to focus on an issue that is primarily ‘Indian’. On being probed about the same, Tyagi explains, “I chose to engage with this subject because the whole concept came from my very own personal experience. While growing up in India, I used to spend every summer vacation at my grandparent’s village. Being second generation out from a village, I know the issues our masses living below the poverty line are facing in rural India.
“I have vivid memories from my childhood during my days in village, when we were kids my grandfather use to drive through village with his car’s headlight off as if the light would be on the heart-breaking scenario or people standing in middle of defecation would be seen because they are being visible from the car’s headlights, and I have seen that sad sight quite many times, and decided to go back and make a film on it.”
The director reveals that Kaashi has been shot in his grandparents’ village. “Most people from that village have never even been to a cinema hall in their entire life, but same people were so happy that a film is shot being in their village by someone who has connection to the places and telling their problems to masses out there,” Tyagi adds.
“I’m now La based but my heart is very much Indian,” concludes Tyagi, whose previous films have been to many national and international film festivals.