In today’s era, it is hard to believe that there are directors like Anand L Rai who make family drama films with uneasy humor and crassness. From a heartbreaking love story in Raanjhanaa to an abstract father-daughter relationship in Atrangi Re, to now Raksha Bandhan – a ‘melodramatic’ tale of a family he has tried his hands on all of it.
Sibling love has, however, been an important element in Hindi Cinema. But as the plot is being treated it pushes us back in time not at all in a salutary way.
As the film opens there might be a question of whether the era is 2022 or 1962. The film features a man with four younger sisters and only one thought running in his mind, How To Get Them ‘Married Off’, and to what extent he goes to do this is the major focus of Raksha Bandhan.
Lala Kedarnath (Akshay Kumar) runs a ‘chaat-ki-dukaan’ in Chandni Chowk with a solo USP: that all the women who eat the golgappas made by him will deliver a son. Boom. That’s where you will drop your jaws. Well, this is just the beginning of the course. And within seconds Lalaji waltzes into his house settled in narrow Galli and labels his unmarried sisters by their physical appearances.
One is overweight, one is dark, the third and the oldest is a hoyden and the little ‘acha Bachchan’ is the only one who is fair and demure. Raksha Bandhan peddles shockingly about the obsolete notions of women and their body type, skin, color, and general demeanor.
Not at all kidding. And this is what we get Lalaji negotiating the ‘burden’ of his ‘unbyaahi behens’ on one hand and trying to balance his filial duties on the other along with his desires. In a childhood romance Sapna (Bhumi Pednekar), is waiting in the wings and her loud father (Neeraj Sood) hovering. When the time comes to arrange marriages with cash and kind changing hands, we have marriage brokers on the way (Seema Pahwa).
Talking about the performances, the film is completely on the shoulders of Akshay Kumar and he carries it effortlessly. The utmost perfect brother. You will forget Samrat Prithviraj and Bachchan Pandey after this. Overall the film is a complete package of emotions and humor.
Bhumi Pednekar has done justice to her character and the sisters Sahejmeen Kaur, Smrithi Srikant and Deepika Khanna have done their part exceptionally well except they could have received more screen time.
The songs and the music from the film by Himesh Reshammiya are already on the chartbusters list.
Lala is the ideal brother who carries the burden of his younger female siblings who in turn look up to him for salvation. The ladies in the film aren’t too loud either. But are however carried away in the film’s time wrap.
The guy’s magic through his golgappas fails to find his sisters a good match and doesn’t yield an instant result. On the other hand, Sapna who has waited to wed him since their childhood is at her wit’s end. Her father gets furious and gives Lala an ultimatum of six months. And then he will no longer wait to get his daughter married off without any superannuation.
Well, that is the entire plot of Raksha Bandhan, an abjectly anachronistic tale that thinks about nothing but emphasizes the fact that a husband is all that a girl needs to complete her life. Which century are we living in?