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. There are some funny one-liners and humour that have been interjected through the story, but it doesn’t have much of an effect.
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.