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Review: Inspite of unavoidable problems, 'Raksha Bandhan' works with its intended emotions being a tear-jerker

The trend of having debated and controversial topics with Aanand L. Rai movies continue. However, it seems that Raksha Bandhan might ignite the most debate than others.

Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan

Touted to be a mega clash and while on paper it truly is, one might wonder as to who will win the battle - Laal Singh Chaddha or Raksha Bandhan. While, we have already talked about the former a while ago, we also had the chance to see Raksha Bandhan starring Akshay Kumar in the lead role with four sisters and one love interest. While, Laal Singh Chaddha had to witness its own hurdles, the road for Raksha Bandhan too hasn't been easy and the noise surrounding the film is as prevalent. But just like the previous one, I am here to provide analysis and critique based wholly on the film the way it is-

https://youtu.be/NmKSeX7A1Bk

The Small Town Flavor

The Small Town Flavor

Few can do small town flavor as well as director Aanand L. Rai does. His knack for understanding the beat and nerve of the remotest places is fascinating and while we might not agree with the beliefs, dialogues and so on - it lands with its intentions. Even though the storyline of Raksha Bandhan is set in Chandni Chowk in Delhi, it is still so raw and earthy that you are transported into those tiny bylanes of the town witnessing the tale of Lala Kedarnath (Akshay Kumar).

Akshay Kumar in his comic element

Akshay Kumar in his comic element

For years now, fans have been wanting to see Kumar in the same comical element that he was in with his streak of Priyadarshan movies. Kumar is one of the best slapstick comedians and does so well with his physical movements, it becomes a treat. It might be uncouth for plenty out there but this is signature Akshay Kumar with his impeccable comic timing which everyone was yearning to see. The first half an hour of the film is Kumar hopping everywhere with some of the funniest situations to play with.

Addressing The Elephants in the room (pun not intended)

Addressing The Elephants in the room (pun not intended)

Just like you would anticipate, a lot of things are problematic with the dialogues and one-liners when you see it from the urban, progressive eye that we have. On one hand, we see Kumar being a diligent brother but he is the one who himself fat-shames his obese sister constantly, is racist towards another sister who is dusky and questions another sister's femininity because she choses to be more 'masculine.' It isn't that writers Kanika Dhillon and Himanshu Sharma aren't aware of the topics that they have written about here and how it works in the modern world -  they do. But one thing that they would reiterate is how this is indeed how it would be in the story and setting of the film. I don't deny that one bit. You cannot expect an illiterate and unaware character from the streets of Chandni Chowk to know about progressiveness and changing times. But then to use those instances and situations at the expense of intended humor and justifications gets into the area of being problematic. While funny with some epic rooted one-liners, Raksh Bandhan relies too much on the above-mentioned tropes to land on humor.

Melodrama Dialed Upto 100+

Melodrama Dialed Upto 100+

As we approach the interval and then into the final minutes of the film, Raksha Bandhan ends up feeling more and more like a soap opera - sometimes in a good sense while sometimes not. The bidaai sequence Gayatri (Sadia Khateeb) following one character's blowout is when the tearing moments begin. And that's it. Ranging from that till the end of the film, we see more and more moments of crying and owing to the nature of the situations presented - more and more melodrama.

Underwritten & Underwhelming Characters

Underwritten & Underwhelming Characters

Having four sisters in the film, around which it should have been surrounded by, Raksha Bandhan ends up being only an Akshay Kumar show. Apart from these sisters having their own trait to portray, none of them have any depth in their characters except a couple of extra shades given to the 'conventionally beautiful looking Gayatri. The rest of the three barely get anything to do. Even with Bhumi Pednekar's character of Sapna, the writing is incredibly weak and inspite of the actor trying her best, it doesn't land as much it should.

Best Akshay Kumar Performance in recent times

Best Akshay Kumar Performance in recent times

Even though his character might have taken more questionable calls than one, Kumar's performance is one of his best from recent times. Landing almost perfectly with his comic timing and being effective albeit loud with his emotional moments, Kumar delivers on almost all fronts. The actor was under-par with his performances in Bachchan Pandey and Samrat Prithviraj in recent times but I don't think he was too worried about Raksha Bandhan. Here, he is in his element and comfort zone and it shows.

The Big Twist & Haphazard Culmination

The Big Twist & Haphazard Culmination

With his signature Aanand L. Rai style, the director inserts yet another big twist here that no one would have seen coming and it shocks and rocks! That becomes the moment of the film where jaws were dropped and minds were blown. But post that, it almost seems like the film doesn't know anymore on where to go and how to go with the story coming to a close. It becomes rather haphazard and confused.

The Verdict

The trend of having debated and controversial topics with Aanand L. Rai movies continue. However, it seems that Raksha Bandhan might ignite the most debate than others because the earlier ones had several redeeming qualities while this quite does not. Raksha Bandhan works with the target audience it is intended for and does leave an impact in bits and pieces but falters in more departments than one to make it a 'must-watch.' I am still being generous with my rating here-

Rating - *** (3/5)

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Akshay Kumar Thumbnail

Akshay Kumar

Aanand L. Rai Thumbnail

Aanand L. Rai

Bhumi Pednekar Thumbnail

Bhumi Pednekar

Sadia Khateeb Thumbnail

Sadia Khateeb

Raksha Bandhan poster

Raksha Bandhan

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