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Move over, Gabbar: In Swachh Bharat twist to Sholay, open defecation costs Jai his life

If one were to go by posters put up by the Chhoti Sadri Municipal Council, answering nature’s call in the open can be just about as harmful as being shot by a dreaded dacoit. The civic body has used scenes from several Amitabh Bachchan movies to promote the construction of toilets at home.

jaipur Updated: Aug 24, 2017 10:30 IST
Sachin Saini
Sachin Saini
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Sholay,Swacch Bharat,Amitabh Bachchan
In this poster depicting the climactic scene of Sholay, Jai tells Veeru that his wounds are caused by the evils of open defecation. The concept was earlier used by the Ranchi Municipal Corporation. (Parwaz Khan/ HT Photo)

It’s the climactic scene of the 1975 Hindi movie, Sholay, where Veeru (played by Dharmendra) returns to find Jai (Amitabh Bachchan) covered with blood. Tears stream from Veeru’s eyes as he gathers his dearest friend in his arms, and asks: “How did you get so hurt?”

Jai stirs and then, with unbearable pain weighing down his words, mumbles: “I don’t have a toilet at home. I injured myself while heading out to defecate at night.”

That doesn’t seem right, does it? Didn’t Gabbar Singh have something to do with Jai’s death?

Bangla hain, gaadi hain... but do you have a toilet? (HT Photo)

If one were to go by posters put up by the Chhoti Sadri Municipal Council in south Rajasthan’s Pratapgarh district, answering nature’s call in the open can be just about as harmful as being shot by a dreaded dacoit. The civic body has used scenes from several movies starring Bachchan – who also happens to be the poster boy of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan – to promote the construction of toilets at home.

Another poster has Shashi Kapoor and Bachchan fighting for their mother’s custody in Deewar (1975), only to be told curtly that she will stay with the son who has bothered to build a toilet at home. And if you thought Anand (1971) wasn’t chock-full of messages for its viewers already, here’s another that will make you weep – Do not litter in the open. Use dustbins.

These posters are part of an initiative launched by municipality executive officer Himanshu Agarwal to ensure that the scourge of open defecation is eliminated from Chhoti Sadri limits. “I was inspired to use the posters here after seeing them on the social media,” he says.

According to the civic body official, as many as 1,000 households of the 1,800 in the area have toilets. “We received around 800 applications for toilet construction, of which 600 have been completed. In addition to this, 15 public lavatories have been constructed in areas with toiletless households,” Agarwal added.

Rajesh Khanna has a valuable piece of advice for Amitabh Bachchan in this scene from Anand. (HT Photo)

The latest in the list of films being used by local bodies for the sanitation campaign is the Akshay Kumar-starrer Toilet Ek Prem Katha. Posters of the movie put up at Chhoti Sadri come with a new catchphrase: Sajni wahi jo piya mann bhaye, saajan wahi jo ghar mein sauchalaya banwaye (The perfect wife is the one who makes her man happy, the perfect husband is the one who constructs a toilet at home).

A similar concept has been adopted at neighbouring Barmer, where the movie poster reads: Ghar mein shauchalay banwaya tho beendadi aa gayee (When I built toilet, I got a bride).

Data released by the Union government shows that 6.95 lakh individual toilets were built in rural areas of Rajasthan under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan since April 1, with a progress rate of 84.49%. The total number of toilets constructed in the state since the launch of the scheme on October 2, 2014, stands at 62.19 lakh, and as many as 25,439 villages have been declared open-defecation free.

Before Chhoti Sadri, it was the Nainital Municipal Corporation in Uttarakhand and the Ranchi Municipal Corporation in Jharkhand that used classic Amitabh Bachchan movies to promote their sanitation drives. The Howrah division of the Indian Railways has also put up Sholay posters as part of its mission to discourage littering at stations.

First Published: Aug 24, 2017 09:29 IST