Raksha Bandhan Is Fallacious At Each Conceivable Stage

Director: Aanand L. Rai
Writers: Himanshu Sharma, Kanika Dhillon
Solid: Akshay Kumar, Bhumi Pednekar, Sadia Khateeb, Deepika Khanna, Sahejmeen Kaur, Smrithi Srikanth

I keep in mind watching Shallow Hal (2001) as a youngster and, for the primary time, realizing that some films use shallow characters as a smokescreen to cover their very own shallowness. Right here was a crude fat-joke-centric comedy – a couple of hypnotized man who falls for a 300-pound girl as a result of he sees her as a svelte girl – parading as a fable about “internal magnificence”. After watching Raksha Bandhan, 21 years later, I look again with nothing however nostalgia on the infamous Jack Black starrer. I’ve seen my justifiable share of tone-deaf social dramas over time, however Raksha Bandhan takes the (eggless) cake. It’s the type of self-contradictory film that bats for progressiveness even throughout the constraints of regressive techniques, solely to turn into progressively regressive by the minute. In the event you assume that’s a tongue-twister, I apologize. I’m a bit shaken. Each time I reached for hair to tug out, my receding hairline thwarted my efforts.

As soon as the movie opens with a message thanking Sooraj Barjatya for “protecting alive Indian traditions and household values in Hindi cinema,” Akshay Kumar seems as a boisterous Chandni Chowk resident named Kedarnath. The intent is to indicate this man as a product of his patriarchal atmosphere. So he runs a gol gappa stall that ensures a male youngster to pregnant girls who eat there. He has taken a vow to marry his childhood sweetheart, Sapna (Bhumi Pednekar), solely after he marries his 4 sisters into respectable properties. His life’s purpose is to earn sufficient cash to pay for his or her dowry. When an activist arrives to ship anti-dowry speeches, Kedarnath berates her for denying Indian households the dignity and pleasure of marrying their daughters within the ‘proper’ method. When some boys whistle at his sisters, he beats them up earlier than declaring (with a mic) that males who ‘eve-tease’ women must be obligated to marry them.

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The issue with Raksha Bandhan is that it’s unimaginable to inform the movie from its narrow-minded setting. The small-town vitality of a mean Aanand L. Rai scene is so robust that it’s onerous to inform if the characters are being condemned for his or her flaws or celebrated for his or her quirks. The exercise and noise in a body really feel like crimson herrings that distract from its problematic themes. For example, Raksha Bandhan unironically makes use of each girl within the story as a visible prop for the person’s eventual enlightenment. One of many sisters is overweight solely in order that Kedarnath can fat-shame her after which remorse his personal behaviour ultimately. One other is dark-skinned in order that he can smother her face with equity cream; one other is tomboyish in order that he can name her Sunny Deol and make her put on a sari. He’s fondest of the light-skinned sister; the others are proven combating like zoo animals over a samosa. 

Kedarnath is aware of no higher, in fact; it’s his conditioning. However Kumar performs these scenes for blatant comedy – the type that Govinda made a profession of within the politically-incorrect Nineties. A possible groom meet that includes twin brothers and a stammering downside will go down as probably the most cringeworthy scene of the 12 months. What’s extra, the movie itself begins to mirror this tone, deriving leisure out of Kedarnath’s insults and Kumar’s frantic efficiency. It merely makes use of an offensive character as an excuse to be humorous.

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The opposite downside is that as a result of it’s a Bollywood famous person enjoying Kedarnath, even his chauvinism is designed to be noble. The movie by no means makes it clear that we’re presupposed to dislike him; it presents his character as somebody endearing, not poisonous. At one level, it’s revealed that he’s adopted and but he’s sacrificing every little thing for the sisters. At one other level, he sells considered one of his kidneys (!) to pay for the dowry. The movie is a story and textural misfire on so many ranges that it even tries to move off his quest as concord when, in actual fact, it’s his desperation to marry Sapna that drives him. It doesn’t assist that Kedarnath shares extra romantic chemistry with the gol gappas he sells than the girl he loves, who in flip spends most of her time both yelling or weeping. We all know {that a} tragedy will rework our flawed hero. However the change arrives so late and so reluctantly that it appears like pressured homework to compensate for a day of pranks. You possibly can nearly hear the movie shrug: “Do I actually must?”

The epilogue is so morally simplistic that the absurd fetisization of psychological well being in Atrangi Re (2021), the director’s earlier movie, appears like an honourable crime compared. Raksha Bandhan is, at its core, a nasty swipe at wokeness parading as a fable of household values. And there’s no redemption for that, similar to there isn’t a redemption for a personality that may have mocked my receding hairline as a “half-moon” regardless of sporting a manifestly pretend moustache himself.

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