Shree Narayan Singh, the director of the 2017 hit Toilet – Ek Prem Katha can’t stop marvelling at the impact his film has made. From Prime Minister Narendra Modi and now Bill Gates, the film has been noticed by the highest and the mightiest. Shree Narayan Singh who began his career with a small insignificant totally-forgotten film Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai in 2012 was virtually reborn in 2017. “It was Neeraj Pandey who pulled me out of oblivion. Of course I was proud to be associated with Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai. It launched the acting career of the grandson of one of my favourite filmmakers Shakti Samanta. But the film flopped and I would’ve vanished if it was not for Neeraj ji. He invited me to assist him in all his films including his productions that he didn’t direct,” says Shree Narayan who is the second of 6 children born in a family in Uttar Pradesh.
When the producers decided to launch Shree Narayan as an independent director he got a choice of three scripts. “But it was this one, the one that became Toilet – Ek Prem Katha written by Siddharth and Garima that I immediately warmed up to. The story of a bride who leaves her husband when she got to know there’s no toilet in her sasural, resonated in my mind. Once Akshay Kumar Sir came on board everything fell into place.”
Prior to Akshay many of the A-list actors including Shah Rukh Khan had turned up their nose at a film about toilet habits. Shree Nayaran describes Akshay as a blessing. “His dedication to making Toilet – Ek Prem Katha is indescribable. He would be the first one on the sets even if we shot till 1 am on the previous night. Normally he doesn’t shoot for more than 8 hours per day. But I only had to ask and he would be there for me, all ready and raring to go as long as I wanted him. He treated me like a child who needs nurturing. I don’t know if I could’ve made this film without Akshay Sir. His passion and dedcation are very inspiring.”
And now Bill Gates has tweeted in support of Toilet – Ek Prem Katha. Says Shree Narayan Singh, “I am falling short of words. It’s difficult for me to say this in mere words to express my gratitude towards Mr. Gates for appreciating a simple film like Toilet – Ek Prem Katha. But it definitely gives me a big high hearing appreciation from someone like Bill Gates. I mean…wow! Is Mr Gates aware of any other Hindi film?”
Shree Narayan’s new film Batti Gul Meter Chalu about power theft featuring Shahid Kapoor in the lead, to be shot in Hardwar, promises to be as hard hitting as Toilet – Ek Prem Katha. “Whatever I make would have to connect with the day-to-day problems of the working class. Baaki, sab Ishwar ke haath mein hai,” Shree Narayan looks up in the sky.