ALERT: This post is not a review of Toilet: ek prem katha, which I went to watch yesterday, but about peak at chain reactions launched by that movie in my brain. The movie is story of lady who fights hard to get toilet at her husband’s house despite opposition of her FIL( expanded as father in law). For a guy who was reading “Thinking Fast and Slow”, this movie launches you in flight path covering cognitive biases.

History of toilet

Since the movie is on toilets, and sanitation, its better to begin with its history. Since humans are also animals, they feed and and create by product called “sandaas” which nothing but the food which couldn’t be digested. In case of animals , they shit every where they want. Since they are lesser in number compared to humans, they are not capable of creating sanitation troubles.

Once humans got settled, they  started with idea of having a common place for shitting. Normally it was besides some stream. When stream option didn’t exist, the concept of private toilets took hold. The person who cleaned these private toilets are today’s version of shudras. In case of ghandhiji, he had this rotation of cleaning works in his society in South Africa. He even forced kasturba to do the cleaning works. This putting everyone on same plane later aided immensely during freedom struggle.

In the meanwhile, when the so called shudra’s revolted against oppression of toilet cleaning, 2 ideas gained immense traction. One was in considering the toilets as a filthy place, you get to see this cue in movie a lot of time. The other idea was of jugaad system of open air toilets. People would take their ‘lota’ and walk to far away place to shit. then cover the shit in mud like cats do. Though the idea of open air toilet was logical continuation when tasked with toilet crisis, the first one was, blatant mistake. The misconception of toilets being filthy place (in fact they are cleanest place in house, due to regular cleaning) gave more runway to open air ones, more than needed.

bias of taking easy route by system 1

if you have completed atlest 20% of Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, you would have come across loads of biases human mind has. One of the relevant bias shown in the movie is of taking easy route to a difficult problem. In case of toilets, when private toilets were expensive thing, the easy route taken was going to fields. Where as another genius took the difficult route and invented S – pipe which is even used today as its most effective airtight seal to keep the bad odor away.

Though the idea of easy route ‘jugaad’ can get things done (India is functional because of this thing) but its not appropriate all the time and leads to other problems. Jugaad of open air leads to problem of viruses strains getting stronger.

When band-aids of easy routes stack up, it becomes very difficult to change course. Personal Finance is one such field.

havoc of easy route in personal finances

Toilets, biases and its play in personal financesLike toilets, the field of personal finance has lots of chronicles of people taking easy route to repent badly. Many take equities because of its tax free status after 1 yr, an easy route but totally ineffective. Other one is buying endowment life insurance and calling it as investment. Similarly putting in truck loads of money in small cap equities during market peaks. Putting all the money in FDs and playing victim card when FD rates fall. Not writing a will and leaving the things to succession law for division of assets (normally happens after a fight between siblings). Jumping the ship when there is temporary sign of trouble. buying a house at exorbitant price in posh established locality, with an exorbitant EMI’s. Relying solely on employer based health insurance cover and calling it as a right.

All these are various forms of easy routes one takes in personal finances and all of them are going to get one in trouble.

Challenges faced by neha while selling her cook stoves

Leaving aside the history of toilets and getting to present, we do have this overt resistance to change tendency still now. The picture beside is of clean cook stove that works on firewood. If one has read though interviews of Neha, one of the founders of this company, you would have gotten a glimpse of difficulty they faced convincing villagers to buy these stoves.

Initially they tried to to sell it on the product’s low pollution credentials and they couldn’t succeed. The when they tried selling it, it will reduce darkening of walls and also result in quicker preparation of food, it was successful.

In movie akshay too tried initially to bring awareness from outside by shamming people and other techniques. All these fell flat.  Change came through when the grandma falls and then they learn the importance of having toilet in house.

Similarly demand gets generated from within. I learned importance asset allocation when I had to book losses in equities. The lesson here is that importance of a thing is learnt when hard times comes. The lessons of keeping book clean for banks came when RR started swacch bharat of bank balance sheets. Need to have clean air came to Political class of Delhi when thick smog surrounded the city.

opinions on acting in Toilet: ek prem katha

In simple words, this movie is simply good. It succeeds in bringing awareness about having toilet in household. Restraint shown by both actors fits well and there is no over acting or under acting ( have seen quiet a lot now a days). Akshay portrays guy of 28-35 age well. Bhomi’s character of strong willed, firebrand and loyal women reminded me Neha.

what next might happen, deprival tantrums thrown by brain

Though movie ended with positive note by wife going back to her husband. Many will have trouble changing course. When sudden changes happen our mind gets in deprival mode and starts throwing tantrums to get back to old system.  This deprival tantrums is built in to all of us. Hence it becomes necessary to make habit of changed thing. That habit can be like my habit of buying stocks at their 52w lows just to avoid deprival reaction thrown by my own brain when a stock is making new highs. Writing investment diary so that reason for selecting a stock is etched permanently. learning knife skills to etch cooking skills permanently.

As the core of movie was about “soch badlo”, I should add “soch badlo aur uski aadat bano”. 🙂