RAKSHA BANDHAN- A story of love or re-packaged patriarchy?

An Aanand L Rai movie produced by Zee Studios, Colour Yellow Productions, and Cape of Good films titled ‘Raksha Bandhan’ released its trailer yesterday on June 21st, 2022. The response to the trailer as per the comments on YouTube is overwhelmingly positive, as the movie seems to be centered around a wholesome sibling bond. But, is that all that the movie stands for? Is it only portraying a divine ‘Bandhan’ between siblings or is it softly elevating outdated misogynistic concepts?

The story was written by Himanshu Sharma and Kanika Dhillon and falls under the category of a  Hindi-language comedy-drama film. The storyline seems to follow the narrative of a big brother’s (Akshay Kumar) love for his 4 younger sisters and his incessant need to marry them off as soon as possible, all the while struggling to maintain a romantic relationship with his girlfriend (Bhumi Pednekar). The 2 minutes 50-second trailer showcases multiple instances that throw shade on how a woman must conduct herself in order to be qualified for marriage. In a particular scene, 3 of the sisters are seen fighting for something and their brother looks at them in despair, implying that even a hint of innocence will affect their chances of being wed. In addition to this, there was no point in the trailer where the sisters’ consent was sought.

Writing about this film comes with the realization that its core message seems to be about a brother’s love for his sisters, but the subtle yet loud references to a stereotypical code that women need to follow to be deemed proper enough for marriage, laced with patriarchal values and a dollop of injustice are enough reasons to worry about this yet-to-release film. Representing middle-class families as a theme in Bollywood has continued for a while, but the idea is to portray the reality while pushing for the much-needed change that 21st-century people are desperate for and not reenforce the same old suppression of a woman’s right to make decisions for herself, that the trailer seems suggestive of.

Ayushmann Khuranna starring movies like ‘Badhai Ho’ (2018) and ‘Shubh Mangal Zyaada Savdhan’ (2020) are those which have a slightly better take on a commoner’s life portrayal, even though a lot of the messages they seemed to spread were shrouded in humor and exaggerated melodrama. Bollywood has come a long way and the industry has delivered stellar work by pushing its boundaries and trying out new themes. Only that sometimes, it doesn’t work out. ‘Raksha Bandhan’ is set to release on 11th August 2022.

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