Cast: Akshay Kumar, Bhumi Pednekar, Sadia Khatib, Sahezmeen Kaur, Smriti Srikanth and Deepika Khanna
Director: Anand L Rai
Rating: 1 star (out of 5)
Without further ado, let’s get this out: Anand L. Rai Protective arrest There is no business in this day and age to exist. It’s a shocking throwback family drama where we’re led to believe that girls are worth nothing if they don’t marry and raise. Captioned by Akshay Kumar (Bollywood’s poster boy for all things sanskari) in Old Delhi guise. Chat A peddling salesman Golgappas For expectant women who want a baby boy, Raksha Bandhan aims to warm our hearts. After all, this is the story of a ‘heroic’ person, a quartet of sisters who commit heart, soul and kidney to the well-being of poor little clueless children who can’t do without the protective hand of big brother.
This hero’s happiness in Chandni Chowk rides on the institution of marriage. Kedar Nath (Akshay Kumar) vows to find suitable boys for his sisters and will do anything to raise the money needed for the wedding.
Not to mention the woes of the poor is like moving the audience to tears. It probably will. The predicament of a man ‘saddled’ with sisters where he has to find life partners before marrying his long time girlfriend Sapna (Bhumi Pednekar) is certainly moving.
It’s hard to believe that someone will make such a movie in 2022. Both its feet are firmly planted in a long ago era. The girls of Raksha Bandhan, like the film, get caught up in time. Why do young women growing up in a part of India’s NCR make such a big deal about marriage in this age of free-flowing information and abundance of opportunities?
Indeed, those baffled by the film’s antiquated assumptions will tear their hair out in frustration. Raksha Bandhan dispels shockingly obsolete ideas about women and their body type, skin color and general behavior.
Kedar, the ideal brother, carries the burden of his younger female siblings as ‘man’, who look to Purusha for salvation. This man’s ‘magic’ Golgappas Has the power to perform ‘miracles’, but his efforts to find matches for his sisters do not yield quick results.
Kedar’s girlfriend was at her wit’s end, waiting forever to marry him. Her father gets impatient. He gives Kedar an ultimatum. He still has eight months to retire. He won’t wait any longer, the old man growls. He intends to marry his daughter before his retirement.
In short, the plot of Raksha Bandhan is a disgustingly anachronistic tale that thinks nothing of emphasizing that a woman needs a husband to complete her life. What century are we living in?
Protective arrestWritten by Himanshu Sharma (Tanu Weds Manu, Ranjana, zero) and Kanika Dhillon (Manmarjian), which is only 110 minutes long, can be considered the only thing about the film. Yet, as the constant foaming at the mouth gives off inertia, the film quickly spirals out of control.
We know where Protective arrest underway, but the circuitous route it takes to get there makes the journey terribly tiring. It’s tears of unbearable disgust that make an anti-dowry statement, but not before repeatedly emphasizing the reluctance that women are at the mercy of the men in their lives — fathers, brothers and husbands. It’s loud, exciting and unbearably bombastic. It doesn’t even pause to think about how insensitive all the noises it makes sound.
The film is not only about treating women. Men are not spared either. Kedar, who is looking for husbands for his two middle sisters, is led by Shanu (Seema Pahwa), a wedding planner – two good twins who stutter.
The two prospective bridegrooms are immediately ridiculed. Kedar swipes them without a care in the world. No one had clearly told him that there was nothing worse than making fun of physical weaknesses. All of this is not part of what Raksha Bandhan believes to be a dash of humor, but a measure of the heavy task the dutiful Freer has on his hands. Kedar’s sisters, except one, Gayatri (Sadia Khatib), are rebels from his side. She is conventionally beautiful, dim-witted, marriageable and therefore the least of Kedar’s worries.
The remaining three pose a greater challenge because they are different. Durga (Deepika Khanna) is overweight. Lakshmi (Smriti Srikanth) is black-and-white. Neither of them have a problem with the way they are, but Big Brother won’t let them forget him. One is repeatedly told to diet; Another is advised not to go in the sun. Kedar’s younger sister (Sahejman Kaur), who was breastfed in Sunny Deol action films, is a boy. She is still a student. The matter of her marriage is never told. The audience is not told if Kedar should wait to get hitched until his sister is grown up and ready to marry.
Don’t worry about such niceties of psychology or logic because neither is trying to work. While a part of Raksha Bandhan revolves around Kedar and Sapna’s now-on-and-off relationship, another important thread of the story revolves around what the sisters have accumulated. The film moves from one thing to another, never quite resolving itself.
Logically, Protective arrest There should be about five marriages but it takes a while to put together that many in less than two hours. Ultimately it is only about two marriages. The rest is put on the backburner as the film’s focus shifts to the climax, which is a slapdash of anything the plot holds together. The performances are also surprisingly subtle. The humor is crude and the sentiments border on the harsh. So, the actors have to go all out to complement the high-pitched, preachy nature of the narrative.
One would love to discuss at length the work of photographer KU Mohanan who vividly captures Chandni Chowk in all its chaos and commotion. Everything seems wasted in a film that allows the camera to botch the frames it composes to other things.
Akshay Kumar fans may have nothing to complain about. The star is in virtually every frame, raving and ranting. He has an enormous workload. He’s a shopkeeper, a dispenser of miracle water-balls, an ever-sacrificing brother and lover who must subordinate his own interest to that of his sisters, and delivers a stern sermon while he’s at it.
In a tone-deaf film, the lead actor has the freedom to slip in and out of his different avatars without worrying about the finer details of behavior.
Protective arrest So yesterday in both substance and spirit it might pass as a 1950s film that has traveled through the decades to land in our midst without rhyme or reason.