Rachana Dubey (BOMBAY TIMES; August 10, 2017)

On a lazy Monday afternoon, a hotel suite was suddenly buzzing with energy of a different kind. Akshay Kumar and his Toilet - Ek Prem Katha co-star Bhumi Pednekar had walked in for an exclusive photo shoot for BT and a quick chat about their experiences with public toilets as stars and as aam Indians. Akshay and his leading lady went about wrapping themselves in toilet paper and shot this picture inside the toilet - their look resembling that of Egyptian mummies.

Later, we asked them if they had ever used a public toilet before becoming actors. Akshay said he has been to public loos before he became a star. “It seems like yesterday! Back then, life in Mumbai was cleaner with less population and pollution, but there were also fewer toilets to use. As a kid, I remember spending hours looking for a loo when we'd be on the go,“ he said.

Echoing the sentiment, Bhumi added, “I have used public toilets many times. Once I was on a road trip with my parents and on my way back from Goa, we couldn't find a toilet. I remember knocking on the doors of a random house and requesting them to let me use their toilet.“

But when asked if they had ever used a public toilet after becoming actors, Akshay promptly replied, “I use public toilets all the time, especially at airports. I even change for events in them. There is one particular toilet I'm looking forward to trying out - the brand new one at Juhu Circle, near my house. When it was opened for public, my staff jumped out of their cars and took photos! They were so happy for the public since it's the best pit stop before going to the beach.“

Akshay and Bhumi's forthcoming film talks about the lack of sanitation and hygiene in the interiors of the country where open defecation is a huge issue. When we brought up the situation of toilets in Mumbai with them, Akshay drew our attention to the fact that the city needs more public spaces for sanitation. He said, “Our city definitely needs more toilets. Some men love to defecate on the beach and let the waves wash their waste away. These are the same beaches where, in a few weeks' time, we will see lakhs of people submerging Ganpati idols. When I cornered some individuals on the beach, their first reply was, 'Why don't you help us make toilets so we wouldn't have to come here?' So, I helped. I can't just complain and not help.“

Bhumi, on the other hand, congratulated the state government and the BMC for constructing new toilets in the city. “Yes, we can do with more loos. I also wish public toilets were more useable. Hygiene and cleanliness are needed in a lot of these toilets,“ she said.