Akshay Kumar is back with another social drama-meets-comedy-meets-just about everything else. Raksha Bandhan is slated for a theatrical release on August 11th, just in time for, you guessed it, the festival itself.
Akshay Kumar is accompanied by Bhumi Pednekar and a slew of other actors in this Anand L. Rai directorial but, the question is, does it work? Just ahead of its release, here’s an honest film review of Raksha Bandhan and whether it ought to be part of your weekend plans. Spoilers ahead.
Review of “Raksha Bandhan” starring Akshay Kumar & Bhumi Pednekar:-
The premise of the film is centered around dowry and a loud, hyper Kedarnath (Akshay Kumar), brother to four young sisters, who is trying his best to marry them off. That all of them are not yet of eligible age is not something viewers are supposed to seek answers to, I suppose.
A resident of Chandni Chowk, Kedarnath runs a chat shop and has loyal customers in pregnant women wishing for sons. Yes, in 2022, and yes, with due encouragement from the shop’s owner.
That cringe detail aside, our male protagonist has several problems of his own. One: His sisters, all except one, are unruly and he feels marrying them off—the zenith of a girl’s existence—will be tough. Two: His longtime love, Sapna (Bhumi Pednekar) is pretty much dying to marry him but they can’t since he promised his dying mother that he would let his sisters “settle down” first.
A loud first half, an unbearable second act:-
Now, here’s where logic would ideally kick in. Okay, he did promise his mother but does he ever stop and question the dated ideology, and focus on their education, their careers, and their actual desires for marriage.
Akshay Kumar’s loud protagonist—one you can pick from just about any ‘comedy’ film of his and place in this one—looks only in one direction, often irritably and with arms flailing. Bhumi Pednekar is reduced to a romantic interest pining to get married to the supposed love of her life. There is absolutely no depth to her character other than this.
If the first half is a shoddy attempt at comedy—hello fat shaming, colorism and all hail dowry because he wants his sisters to be happy—the second is a dramedy stretched beyond bearable limits, one where he resorts to selling a kidney to gather money for his sisters’ marriages, a plot point rarely mentioned again or resolved.
‘Raksha Bandhan’ tries too hard, but loses the plot:-
Stuck by an unforeseen tragedy, our protagonist finally realizes the social evil that is dowry, and how he should instead be educating his sisters so that they make a name for themselves. The journey from point A to B is sudden, without nuance, and catering to a trope so old, you’d be surprised you are not in a 90s Bollywood film.
There’s no denying the fact that dowry continues to be practiced in several places in India, many a times under the garb of ‘gifts’. The problem with Raksha Bandhan is that in order to educate the masses about the evil that is dowry, the film first glorifies it to a great extent. So much so that justifying the trajectory of it from ‘good’ to ‘bad’ in about two hours becomes impossible.
Too much of everything adds up to a forgettable drama:-
There is also a preachy speech denouncing the dowry system at the end as a broken Kedarnath tries to gather the pieces of his life but, by then, the plot is all over the place and the gaps too many for anyone to relate to.
In the end, you are left wondering what would have happened if Akshay Kumar’s Kedarnath did find the courage to shun the practice a bit earlier. But he didn’t and, so, here we are with the chaos that is Raksha Bandhan.