by ASJAD NAZIR.

ENTERTAINING films that put across a strong message or highlight an important social issue have become increasingly popular in Bollywood.

That trend continues with forthcoming film Batti Gul Meter Chalu, which stars Shahid Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor and Yami Gautam in the lead roles.

“In terms of the Batti Gul Meter Chalu title it talks about the issue of electricity, which is a fundamental human right in India, yet there are so many millions of homes where not even one bulb has been lit. There are also many homes where there is no light, but the (electric) meter continues to run. Ever since electricity has been privatised, there has been a massive rise in bills. So it is a relevant issue,” said Shahid.

The latest film from Toilet: Ek Prem Katha director Shree Narayan Singh revolves around an ordinary person who takes on a major electric company conning customers and how he mobilises others in his pursuit of justice.

Shahid admits he didn’t know how big an issue sanitation and toilets were until he saw the director’s previous film.

“That film was almost educational for me. I realised how big an issue it was in our country. That was more a rural issue with Toilet, but this is much wider with our film as it affects those in towns, villages and cities. So many are experiencing power cuts and a rise in bills,” Shahid said.

Although Batti Gul Meter Chalu tackles an important social issue, the award-winning actor points out that it is entertaining and aimed at a wide audience.

“I think this is an extremely mainstream film as you can see from the trailer. I think issues don’t make a film non-mainstream. The take on the issue makes a film non-mainstream. I have always believed that if you want to say something good and want to reach a wide audience, then you should.”

Shahid is very much of the belief that actors should use the power of cinema to highlight issues to a wider audience, which he hopes results in a bigger debate and action being taken. He feels proud to have the opportunity to do something on a human level that is relevant and good for the country.

Shraddha [Kapoor] and I have done Haider together, which spoke about human rights which is a massive issue, and then I did Udta Punjab, which is about the drug problem in the Punjab. Today I am doing Batti Gul Meter Chalu. So it’s kind of my third film which focuses on a relevant social issue and something people in this country are going through. I must tell you that after I did those two films in the past, the kind of love I got from people affected by that issue was overwhelming.”

He is very proud of the new film and hopes to continue making entertaining cinema for a wide audience.

The actor ultimately wants to be part of good films that say something to audiences and perhaps touch their hearts.

“If you make a good film you can reach many people and that is a huge opportunity which all of us have,” he said.

  • Batti Gul Meter Chalu is in cinemas now.