Sibling Revelry: Raksha Bandhan—the film and the festival

Ranveer Singh and Priyanka Chopra played brother and sister in Dil Dhadakne Do. Photo: Trailer Video Grab.

Raksha Bandhan, starring Akshay Kumar and Bhumi Pednekar, is also the first film directly titled after the festival representing the brother-sister bond, and has a superb thematic song that has caught on, Tere saath hoon main, written by Irshad Kamil and composed by Himesh Reshammiya.  More significantly, the makers have timed the release of the film on Raksha Bandhan Day itself—August 11.

In the past too, films like Anpadh, Rakhi, Resham Ki Dori, Chhoti Bahen, Bahen, Raakhi Aur Hathkadi and Rakhi Ki Saugandh have revolved around the love between bhai-behen, but all of them been either melodramas or potboilers. The first four films, nevertheless, succeeded at the box-office.

However, it is the newer films—with one sterling exception mentioned below— that have shown sibling relationships on a better level, even if the movies were not named after either the special bond or the festival.

Here are 10 such films that highlight what may well be called ‘Sibling Revelry’.

  1. Among the old films, the shining example of brother-sister camaraderie and love remains Raj Kapoor’s Boot Polish (1954). Little Bhola (Ratan Kumar) and Belu (Baby Naaz) are left in the care of their aunt, a prostitute, after their mother dies. She forces them to beg on the streets and often beats them. But a bootlegger (David) teaches the two kids self-respect and how to work for a living. They are then kicked out by their aunt and have a star-crossed life wherein they are separated for long before being reunited. The director was Prakash Arora.
  2. One of my personal favorites is the 2015 Dil Dhadakne Do, which highlighted the bro-sis bond of Ranveer Singh with Priyanka Chopra. When Priyanka’s abusive husband (Rahul Bose) crosses limits, the brother does what is right and protects the traumatized sister. Zoya Akhtar directed the film.
  3. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013) saw Divya Dutta play the sister who motivates Milkha Singh (played by Dil Dhadakne Do hero, writer and co-producer Farhan Akhtar) to be a world-class athlete after their terrible traumas during Partition. As this was a real story, the relationship movingly stands out even though the film did not focus specially on the sibling bond.
  4. In Bumm Bumm Bole (2010), a film I missed because of its stilted theatrical run, a little boy (Darsheel Taare Zameen Par Safary) does everything to get his little sister (Ziyah Vastani) a pair of shoes—the film was an official remake of the Iranian movie Children of Heaven.
  5. A classic, though a commercial failure, was Iqbal (2005), which showed how a deaf and mute young man went on to become a state Ranji Trophy cricket player. His solid pillar of support remained his doughty sister. Shreyas Talpade and Shweta Basu Prasad made their stunning debuts as siblings in the quasi-masterpiece directed by Nagesh Kukunoor.
  6. A unique example of a brother-sister relationship was seen in Onir’s My Brother…Nikhil, the same year. The film highlighted the unconditional support given by a sister (Juhi Chawla) to a homosexual brother (Sanjay Suri) against a fastidious society. No raakhis were needed to be symbolic of their bond here. In fact, one could say that the concept of a brother protecting the sister was turned on its head, as it was she who stood by him as a protective shield against the world.
  7. A very endearing pair was Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai (now Bachchan) in the 2000 actioner Josh. Set in Goa, the film showed how the brother had to finally make friends with his rival gang’s leader because his sister has fallen in love with him. The film even had a playful brother-sister song, Apun bola that Shah Rukh himself rendered with Hemaa Sardesaai under Anu Malik! Mansoor Khan directed this film.
  8. We, of course, remember the deep love between the brother and sister who are children of separated parents in Dev Anand’s first hit directorial, Hare Rama Hare Krishna in 1972. Dev’s journey to locate his sister (Zeenat Aman), now a hippie and a drug addict, formed the crux of the story.
  9. Then there is the happy, feisty yet carefree journey of two young kids, Chhotu (Krrish Chhabria) and elder sister Pari (Hetal Gada) in Nagesh Kukunoor’s second film in this list—Dhanak (2015). Pari has one aim in life: to restore the sight of her blind brother. As orphans living in a village, Pari sees an eye-donation poster and decides to write a letter to Shah Rukh Khan, whose picture features in the pamphlet, to help her. What happened thereafter is a must-watch in this colorful and cute film.
  10. The strict brother (Arbaaz Khan) thinks he knows it all and has made the right choice of a boy for his sister (Kajol). He, therefore, does not think highly of her own choice (Salman Khan). So he makes the latter go through the grind to prove his love for his sister. The amusing part of this romantic comedy was that the two Khans, in their 1998 hit home production, sparred with each other and did not play siblings. Their third brother, Sohail Khan, wrote, directed and co-produced the movie!
Akhay Kumar and four sisters in Raksha Bandhan. Photo: Raindrop Media

Bonding with music

Songs about brother-sister love and the significance of the raakhi tied on a brother’s wrist, invoking his protection even as siblings may squabble with each other, have been endemic in Hindi cinema for decades. With Tere saath hoon main from Rakshabandhan, the genre has got its latest member.

Here is a list of the memorable brother-sister songs.

  1. Ab ke baras bhejo—Bandini (1963) Asha Bhosle / Music: S.D. Burman / Lyrics: Shailendra
  2. Behna ne bhai ki kalaai se—Resham Ki Dori (1974) Suman Kalyanpur / Shankar-Jaikishan / Indeevar
  3. Behna o behna—Adalat (1977) Mukesh / Kalyanji-Anandji / Gulshan Bawra
  4. Bhaiya mere raakhi ke bandhan—Chhoti Bahen (1959) Lata Mangeshkar / Shankar-Jaikishan / Shailendra
  5. Dekha phoolon ko kaanton pe sote hue —Majboor (1974) Lata Mangeshkar & Kishore Kumar in separate versions / Laxmikant-Pyarelal / Anand Bakshi
  6. Hum behno ke liye mere bhaiyya—Anjaana (1969) Lata Mangeshkar / Laxmikant-Pyarelal / Anand Bakshi
  7. Mere pyari beheniya—Saccha Jhutha (1970) Kishore Kumar / Kalyanji-Anandji / Indeevar
  8. Phoolon ka taaron ka—Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1972) Lata Mangeshkar & Kishore Kumar in separate versions / R.D. Burman / Anand Bakshi
  9. Rang birangi raakhi leke—Anpadh (1962)—Lata Mangeshkar / Madan Mohan / Raja Mehdi Ali Khan
  10. Yeh raakhi bandhan hai aisa—Beimaan (1972) Mukesh & Lata Mangeshkar / Shankar-Jaikishan / Verma Malik




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