Raksha Bandhan Movie Review | Filmfare.com


critic’s rating:



3.0/5

Lala Kedarnath (Akshay Kumar) has four sisters of marriageable age. These sisters, played by Sadia Khateeb, Smrithi Srikanth, Deepika Khanna, and Sahejmeen Kaur, come with their own quirks. While Sadia is near-perfect, Smrithi has a dark complexion, Deepika is obese, and Sahejmeen is a tomboy. Going by the common parlance, barring the eldest, the rest aren’t “marriage material”. Kedar has promised his dying mother that he’ll only marry when he sees all four married off, and that puts his relationship with neighbor, friend, and childhood sweetheart, Sapna (Bhumi Pednekar), in jeopardy. How this chaat-seller, based in Delhi’s famous Chandni Chowk, whose speciality is gol-gappes, which ensures the customer will be pregnant with a son, goes about his mammoth task, forms the crux of the film.

One way to look at director Aanand L. Rai’s films is to categorise them as examples of the cinema of the absurd. Because, whether intentionally or unintentionally, his films have absurdist elements. His last release, Atrangi Re, for example, talked about mental health but was set against the backdrop of a girl’s hallucinations about her own father, Tanu Weds Manu Returns reinforced the idea that men like to stray and look for a certain type. Zero talked about how even the disabled and people with less than average height need love too, but again, the way the message was conveyed wasn’t conventional. In Raksha Bandhan, he gives out an anti-dowry message. One can say that it’s absurd in this day and age to think of a scenario where a brother is struggling to get four of his sisters married. But the reality is that dowry deaths are an everyday phenomenon even now. So if an extremely loud, extremely melodramatic, full of every brother-sister trope you effort can think of, gets made to highlight it, should we ignore the message because it was painted on an absurdist canvas? Maybe what’s absurd is that we ask for and give dowry even today. Even as this is being written, some girl is getting abused somewhere for not bringing in enough dowry. The film doesn’t just highlight the problem, it offers a solution as well. It tells the girls to build a career first and then seek a compatible partner for themselves. It’s a freedom the vast majority of Indian girls don’t have even today.

The thing is that Raksha Bandhan says all the right things, but in a hugely contrived manner. Your tear ducts are forcefully targeted every five minutes. In particular, in the second half, the emotional ambience gets so heavy it threatens to drown you out. Like a swimmer caught off guard in a suddenly swelling river, the viewer has no relief in sight. Maybe a non-linear approach would have helped.

While the track between the sisters and Akshay Kumar has its moments, the romantic track between Bhumi Pednekar and Akshay could have been better written. For example, they could’ve been married and fighting because his world revolves around his sisters. Or at least she could have been shown helping him find a solution to his problems, as she’s the only friend he’s had since childhood. A childhood sweetheart would help out, right? They do share a certain chemistry, but we wish their romance was etched out in a better way.

Technically, the film can’t be faulted. The set and production design, as well as VFX, are world-class, making you believe you’re actually at Chandni Chowk. The mayhem and madness of the place have been captured flawlessly. It’s all there minus the smell. The cinematography by KU Mohanan is spot on too. Aanand L Rai’s frames always look busy, and the same is the case here as well.

The four girls, despite not sharing facial similarities like siblings mostly do, manage to convey the chemistry of close-knit sisters. Bhumi Pednekar’s role, as said earlier, isn’t as fleshed out as one would have wished for. She has her moment in the sun during her confrontational scene with Akshay and carries it off like the seasoned actor she is. The film rests squarely on Akshay Kumar’s able shoulders. He gives off the perfect elder brother vibes, despite the age difference he shares with his screen sisters, from the first and the last frame. And handles all the heavy-duty emotional scenes well too. Full marks to him for sincerity and commitment.

Trailer: Raksha Bandhan

Archika Khurana, August 11, 2022, 3:42 AM IST


critic’s rating:



2.5/5


Raksha Bandhan Story: Responsibility for the four sisters’ marriage rests on the shoulders of Lala Kedarnath, the eldest and only brother. What follows are his relentless efforts to ensure his sisters settled down in marriage before marrying Sapna, his childhood sweetheart. Will he be able to keep his promises, or does fate have other plans for him?

Raksha Bandhan Review: The film takes off quickly in the locales of Chandni Chowk, where Lala Kedarnath (Akshay Kumar) owns a pushtaini gol gappa (panipuri) shop. He is popular, especially among the pregnant women who believe that after gulping down gol gappas from his shop, they will possibly give birth to a baby boy. Even in his personal life, he is surrounded by a gang of four sisters— sensible and responsible Gayatri (Sadia Khateeb), chubby Durga (Deepika Khanna), dusky Laxmi (Smrithi Srikanth), and tomboyish Saraswati (Sahejmeen Kaur) — and, of course, his girlfriend, Sapna (Bhumi Pednekar).
Lala made a promise to his mother on her deathbed that he would tie the knot only after he has fulfilled his responsibility of marrying his sisters into suitable homes. Despite his best efforts and careful screening of all available men, he is unable to marry off his sisters. At the same time, Lala’s devotion to his sisters impedes his romantic life with Sapna.

After Atrangi Re!, director Aanand L Rai and writer Himanshu Sharma collaborate again. Kanika Dhillon has co-written this familial tale that is overly simple and relatable. Rai creates a world that beautifully depicts siblings’ love and support for one another. The first half is a breeze, thanks to Lala’s sisters’ teasing and bonding, but the second half is more emotionally-charged, turning it into a social commentary. As a result, the narrative gets repetitive and a tad tedious in the latter part, making you wonder where it is all headed. The writing could have been stronger, crisper and more effective.

Though the songs (by Himesh Reshammiya) are easily forgettable, it doesn’t interrupt the narrative. As with most of his stories, Rai makes up for it with a moving ending and some unpredictable touches. He also invests in his characters and gives each one scope to shine. The problem here is, that the plot appears too cluttered and at times is filled with contrivances that don’t blend well with the story. They have attempted to use humour through the narrative, but it’s often misplaced.

Akshay has effectively conveyed his character Lala’s many emotions at different points in the film. Whether he is playing the helpless brother or committed lover, the actor is in form throughout. Bhumi Pednekar as Sapna performs with conviction. But her on-screen chemistry with Akshay Kumar in their previous outing together was better.

The four sisters—debutants Sahejmeen Kaur and Smrithi Srikanth as well as Deepika Khanna, Sadia Khateeb—lend great support and steadily bring a good dose of comedy. Seema Pahwa is effective in her limited role as a matchmaker.

‘Raksha Bandhan’ reflects the stories of people from small-town India, and in that effort, it does entertain especially in the first half. However, the story about bandhan between siblings soon turns into a social commentary about dowry, which takes up a lot of screentime of this 110-minute movie. This highly emotional drama doesn’t fail to touch you, but it had the potential to be a far more entertaining watch.

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