Although Akshay Kumar portrays a character in Raksha Bandhan who has retrograde thoughts, the movie itself is not retrograde. As the narrative develops, he comes to see the value of women’s education and the dangers of dowries.
Rakshabandhan, Akshay Kumar’s most recent film, has garnered a variety of positive reviews. Many people have criticised the movie for being backwards, while others have praised it for sending a very needed message against the dowry system. The movie may be caught between the two main divisions in our nation—one that believes social problems like dowry and dowry deaths are a thing of the past and the other that thinks Indian society has long since moved past them.
Raksha Bandhan, written by Kanika Dhillon and Himanshu Sharma, tells the tale of a man and his four sisters. He shows them the utmost love, but he also thinks that getting them married off with attractive dowries is his ultimate goal. The film, which was directed by Anand L. Rai, is most definitely not intended to persuade viewers who already believe that dowry is a bad custom to change their beliefs. It is for the prospective groom’s family, who feel it as a prideful birthright, and the families of the potential brides, who see it as a duty and necessity.
In one of Raksha Bandhan’s most dramatic scenes, Akshay is awakened by the “noise” of a social worker discussing the sins of dowry and pleading with the people of Chandni Chowk not to give in to such demands by the groom and his family. What carries out our hero? He explains to her that men put a lot of effort into ensuring that their daughters and sisters live happy lives by securing sizable dowries for them, and he refuses to feel guilty or humiliated about setting up dowries for the sisters. Although the hero speaks what the majority of people in the heartland think, others consider it to be one of the most retrograde scenes in the movie.
Indian women continue to experience dowry cases and dowry deaths, particularly in rural and semi-urban areas where many incidents go undetected. According to the NCRB report for 2019, dowry-related torture and violence claim the lives of at least 7000 women nationwide each year. Although residents of metropolitan areas and those with an urban mindset are aware of gender equality and think cases of dowry-related torture and dowry death are a thing of the past, government statistics paint a quite different image.
In many areas of India, dowries are exchanged proudly. The bigger dowry a man might seek depends on his salary and education levels. An article from April of this year in The Hindu expounded on how the dowry system functions in the modern world. The groom’s family insists on receiving the money and other perks prior to the wedding, the statement read. The financial and social pressure on the bride’s family may not be referred to as dowry, but it is essentially the same.
The majority of people agree that dowry is a horrible custom, but giving the groom’s family a “decent amount” guarantees they won’t abuse the bride. In fact, many households forbid females from pursuing higher education since the fees could be used to cover their dowry. Parents are pressured socially and psychologically to give up a sizable sum of money to marry off their daughters, whether it be as dowry, gifts, or blessings.
Raksha Bandhan speaks to the target audience in their own language with the intention of affecting a change of heart in the actual world, where marriage is the only goal of women’s lives and sanskari males (be it the father or brother) do every effort to secure the largest dowries for them. Only a life-changing event can shake them out of societal evil’s trance and make them realise that women deserve equal respect and cannot be treated like cattle or objects. The final message of the movie is that women should prioritise their education over marriage.
Akshay is portrayed by Anand L. Rai as the devoted sibling who shames her sister for her weight and works double shifts to pay for their weddings. He is also shown to regret his own outlook and regret that he did not put more emphasis on their schooling. Without this realisation, the movie would have gone backwards. The movie deftly enters the realm of dowry, portrays its inhabitants with complete accuracy, and explains why the custom is wrong. It is more likely to land where it needs to since it speaks the same language.