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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.
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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