‘RAKSHA BANDHAN’ REVIEW | 11 August, 2022

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Zee Studios, Colour Yellow Productions Pvt. Ltd. and Cape Of Good Films’ Raksha Bandhan is the story of a young man and his four sisters.

Lala Kedarnath (Akshay Kumar) lives in a middle-class locality of Delhi, with his four sisters. He has a chaat shop in the Chandni Chowk area of Delhi. He had promised his dying mother that he would not get married before marrying off all his sisters even though he has found his life partner in his childhood friend, Sapna (Bhumi Pednekar). However, finding suitable grooms for the four sisters is not an easy task for Lala, especially because he is not rich enough to give enough dowry. A matchmaker, Shanoo Sharma (Seema Pahwa), assures to find suitable grooms for the four sisters — for commission, of course. In fact, she even finds a groom for the eldest sister, Gayatri (Sadia Khateeb). But soon thereafter, a calamity befalls the family. This changes Lala’s perspective. But the sad part is that after this calamity, Lala decides not to marry Sapna.

What is the calamity? Do Lala and Sapna marry each other or does Sapna get married to another guy?

Himanshu Sharma and Kanika Dhillon have written a story and screenplay which try to pack in too many things as a result of which justice is done to nothing. There’s an anti-dowry message, which seems to be half-baked, there’s also a message about girls becoming independent in life, which appears to be hurried, there’s a track of eve-teasing, which is abrupt, and there’s an adoption angle, which comes out of nowhere. In other words, neither is any of the tracks established enough to create an impact nor is a track so well-handled that it appears to the audience to have been done justice to. The writers have also exaggerated things so much that it robs the drama of authenticity or plausibility. Three of the four sisters, although of marriageable age, behave so badly that it is embarrassing for onlookers. For instance, they fight over a samosa by pulling each other’s hair and clothes and pushing one another. What is worse is that even in serious scenes, the writers have added their brand of comedy which has a twofold adverse effect — the comedy irritates, and the seriousness of the issue is lost. An example of this is when Sapna’s dad invites a prospective groom home to finalise her marriage. The sisters of Lala Kedarnath create such a ruckus in front of the prospective groom’s family to humiliate Sapna’s father that it looks repulsive. The audience wonders if such buffoons even exist anywhere. The climax has no impact if only because it is half-baked.

This is not to say that there are no plus points. Of course, there are, but they are few and far between. A couple of emotional scenes are heart-touching. Some light moments are entertaining. Also, the over-the-top comedy and melodrama would definitely find favour with the family audience and viewers in smaller centres. Frankly, the film seems to be targeted towards audiences in small centres mainly. But the classes among the audience, and the youngsters in ‘A’ class centres would find the drama quite unpalatable.

Himanshu Sharma and Kanika Dhillon’s dialogues are far better than their screenplay. Some of the dialogues, although aimed mainly at the public in smaller centres, are very appealing. However, in an anti-dowry film, a dialogue to the effect that girls should start demanding dowry looks ridiculous — and that’s putting it mildly. It is a horrendously wrong dialogue.

Akshay Kumar does a fantastic job of Lala Kedarnath. Of course, his over-the-top character will not go down well with the city folk but that’s more because of the scripting. Given the script, he gets into the skin of the character. Bhumi Pednekar gives a very good account of herself in the role of Sapna. She stands out in the emotional scenes. Sahil Mehta is pretty endearing in the role of Gaffar. None of the four sisters makes a place in people’s hearts or is even a good actress. Sadia Khateeb looks good as Gayatri. Smrithi Srikanthan (as Laxmi), Deepika Khanna (as Durga) and Sahejmeen Kaur (as Saraswati) are average. Neeraj Sood lends fine support as Sapna’s impatient father who is in a tearing hurry to get his daughter married off. Seema Pahwa lends able support as the greedy matchmaker, but her character simply disappears after a point of time. Manu Rishi Chadha (as the maternal uncle of the first prospective groom for Gayatri) and Raajeshwari Arora (as the neighbour-friend of Gayatri at her marital home) lend good support. Gautam Ahuja (as young Lala Kedarnath), Karan Puri (as Gayatri’s husband), and the others provide ordinary support.

Aanand L. Rai’s direction is fair but he has tried to return to the kind of films he has been successful with, with a script which is not universally appealing. In the process, he has catered to the audience of small centres but quite ignored the youth in the big cities. Himesh Reshammiya’s music has some appeal for the masses but there is not a single song which is hit. Irshad Kamil’s lyrics are weighty. Vijay Anil Ganguly’s choreography is functional. Ishaan Chhabra’s background music is okay. K.U. Mohanan’s cinematography is nice. Sham Kaushal’s action scenes are functional. Production designing (by Sumit Basu, Snigdha Basu and Rajnish Hedao) and art direction (by Bidhan Guha, Rachna Mandal and Nitin Kant) are very good. Hemal Kothari’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Raksha Bandhan is for the small centres mainly. While it will appeal to the families, women and masses in small centres, it will not find as much favour with the youth, classes and audiences in the big cities. As far as business is concerned, it will, therefore, not be able to do much. Business in circuits like U.P., Bihar and C.P.C.I. Rajasthan will be better than in other circuits. It must be added that in the final tally, its business will be more than its merits because of the first eight-day week which is full of additional holidays (Raksha Bandhan, Independence Day, Janmashtami, Parsi New Year).

Released on 11-8-’22 at Inox (daily 10 shows) and other cinemas of Bombay by Zee Studios. Publicity: very good. Opening: so-so, considering that it is a festive holiday for Raksha Bandhan. …….Also released all over. Opening was fair at some places but not up to the mark at many other places.