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Despite claiming to 'uncover' social issues surrounding the transgender community, Akshay Kumar’s Laxmii fails, and becomes just another horror comedy.
Despite claiming to ‘uncover’ social issues surrounding the transgender community, Akshay Kumar’s Laxmii fails, and becomes just another horror comedy.
Translated by Shalabha Sarath from the Hindi original.
In order to elevate the status of transgender personnel, the Noida Metro Rail Corporation didn’t just change the name of the station to ‘rainbow station’. The Corporation also provided trans people Mahi Gupta, Panya, Suraj/Kajal, Shanu, Pavan, and Kunal Mahor with jobs at the ticket counter and as house-keeping.
On one hand, we have stories of trans people who are working hard towards changing their social and cultural status in society. On the other hand, we have films like Laxmii that do portray the social struggles of transgender people but show them resorting to desultory methods and supernatural states to earn societal standing.
To truly portray the trajectory of the trans community, filmmakers need to paint a contemporary picture of their progress and what their lives could potentially look like. Hindi cinema is yet to tell a real and affirmative story of the community.
Instead, films have portrayed an image of the community that paints them as misfits or even scary as in this case. Such portrayals further undercut the progress of the community. Today, these films need creators and directors that are aware and critical. Although at a slow rate, the transgender community is achieving more and marking its presence in society.
The OTT platforms Disney and Hotstar have simply retold the story of the original film Kanchana with a few alterations and called it a new film- Laxmii. In simple terms, it is a tale of a lurking soul that is trying to undo the suffering of its past, forcing horror-comedy into the storyline. Once the trans person’s soul ‘enters’ Akshay Kumar’s character, everything he does becomes foolish or silly.
Aasif (Akshay Kumar) tries to make people around him aware about superstitions. He has had a love marriage with Rashmi, played by Kiara Advani. Rashmi’s father (Rajesh Sharma) does not approve of this marriage, but Rashmi’s mother allows the couple to come home to convince him.
When the couple reaches Rashmi’s house, a ghost from a compound beside the building joins the family. The ghost then decides to take revenge for its past. This piece of horror comedy by Akshay Kumar has not been so appealing to its audience. To make it a family movie, children have been included as characters but they seem to disappear hallway through the film.
A not-so-solid remake that relies on Akshay Kumar’s performance along with its horror-comedy element, derails the film from its own course. Sharad Kelkar does not do justice to his role as a trans person. Kiara Advani, Rajesh Sharma, and other characters don’t deliver an extraordinary performance either; with Kiara’s role limited to being decorative.
A film that aimed to talk about the trans community seems to have been locked-up in its horror-comedy category. The removal of the word ‘bomb’ from its title is ironic, as the film is no cinematic explosion and blows no smoke whatsoever.
Disappointed viewers might as well go back to the original film Kanchana. If they want to watch it at all.
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Shows like Indian Matchmaking only further the argument that women must adhere to social norms without being allowed to follow their hearts.
When Netflix announced that Indian Matchmaking (2020-present) would be renewed for a second season, many of us hoped for the makers of the show to take all the criticism they faced seriously. That is definitely not the case because the show still continues to celebrate regressive patriarchal values.
Here are a few of the gendered notions that the show propagates.
A mediocre man can give himself a 9.5/10 and call himself ‘the world’s most eligible bachelor’, but an independent and successful woman must be happy with receiving just 60-70% of what she feels she deserves.
Darlings makes some excellent points about domestic violence . For such a movie to not follow through with a resolution that won't be problematic, is disappointing.
I watched Darlings last weekend, staying on top of its release on Netflix. It was a long-awaited respite from the recent flicks. I wanted badly to jump into its praise and will praise it, for something has to be said for the powerhouse performances it is packed with. But I will not be able to in a way that I really had wanted to.
I wanted to say that this is a must-watch on domestic violence that I stand behind and a needed and nuanced social portrayal. But unfortunately, I can’t. For I found Darlings to be deeply problematic when it comes to the portrayal of domestic violence and how that should be dealt with.
Before we rush to the ‘you must be having a problem because a man was hit’ or ‘much worse happens to women’ conclusions, that is not what my issue is. I have seen the praises and criticisms, and the criticisms of criticisms. I know, from having had close associations with non-profits and activists who fight domestic violence not just in India but globally, that much worse happens to women. I have written a book with case studies and statistics on that. Neither do I have any moral qualms around violence getting tackled with violence (that will be another post some day).