By Akshay Acharya
Film: Raksha Bandhan (Released in theatres). Duration: 1 hour 48 minutes.
Director: Aanand L. Rai. Cast: Akshay Kumar, Bhumi Pednekar and Seema Pahwa
IANS Rating: **
Everytime Akshay Kumar goes to Chandni Chowk on-screen, the audience repeats in their mind exactly what Paresh Rawal said in 'Phir Hera Pheri': "Mereko toh aisa dhak dhak horela hai (I can feel my heart beating in anxiety)."
Thirteen years after the debacle of 'Chandni Chowk to China', Akshay is back with yet another dud, 'Raksha Bandhan', whose coordinates are in the complex and congested streets of Chandni Chowk.
Akshay is reuniting with director Aanand L. Rai with this film after their last successful collaboration in 'Atrangi Re', where he was seen with Sara Ali Khan and Dhanush. 'Atrangi Re', though, was an OTT release. This time, the theatres will test the covalent bond between the actor and director as it clashes with the Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor-starrer 'Laal Singh Chaddha'.
Rai moved away from his small-town settings that he is known for and has based the film in Delhi. It tells the story of a brother, who does everything in his capacity to marry off his four sisters, no matter how much the dowry amount, only to realise later that the practice has serious repercussions on the life of women.
Akshay's character, who initially collects funds for the sisters' marriages, understands the problem and invests the money in their education after an untoward incident and subsequent 60s-style Bollywood melodrama strikes the family. The actor, who comes up with roughly a film in each quarter, puts little to no effort although he plays the lead.
The audience has seen the same Akshay Kumar in 'Bachchhan Paandey', in 'Samrat Prithviraj', and in 'Raksha Bandhan'. There's no character when Akshay portrays one; there's just Akshay Kumar. There's a limit to what the audience can take and Akshay''s lacklustre attitude of late compels those at the receiving end to say, "Bacche ki jaan lega kya?" (Enough is enough).
Bhumi Pednekar, who plays Akshay's love interest in the film, offers nothing new in terms of her performance, but to give credit where it is due, she does manage to salvage a few scenes with her work. The supporting cast, too, is mediocre with the notable exception of Seema Pahwa.
The script, screenplay and direction appear to be completely out of sync with what the film was meant to be in the head of the director. What works well are the production design and art direction. The earthy colour palette lends depth to the frames and adds aesthetic value to them.
Himesh Reshammiya's music is a complete letdown; instances where he goes behind the mic only add insult to the injury. The songs and the situations around them seem to be forced and added just to attract the audience. They are of no value to the film's narrative.
Overall, 'Raksha Bandhan' is a downer. It will be interesting to see if the audience likes the film. Or will they give Akshay Kumar a hat-trick of flops after 'Bachchhan Paandey' and 'Samrat Prithviraj'.