Two notable Bollywood films give you that special dose of outlandish song, dance and rom-com drama that you expect with a Bollywood extravaganza, plus they advance a vital social cause. And they will give you deep insight into today’s India. Both films are about a maverick who takes it upon himself to undo an entrenched detrimental Indian custom. Interestingly, the same Bollywood super-star, Akshay Kumar, plays the protagonist in both films, which are based on true stories. Toilet: A Love Story
is the movie version of a real guy who tried to put toilets in his home against the wishes of the village, and his wife is pressured to divorce him for this affront, and how this became a national campaign. Padman
is the true story of a guy trying to get Indian village women to use sanitary pads instead of being quarantined outside during menstruation. He invents a way to make the pads cheaply, which he tests on himself. (!!!) His wife also divorces him. But all ends well in both films — it’s Bollywood! There is a third film, a straight documentary about the real Padman, called Period. End of Sentence.
This won an Oscar this year for a documentary short. Quite inspirational. All three films can be streamed on Netflix with English subtitles. The first two are painless entryways into Bollywood. — KK