Laxmmi Hindi Movie Review
In 'Laxmii', Akshay Kumar plays a man who gets possessed by the ghost of a transgender. Raghava Lawrence's film on Disney+ Hotstar is a remake of his own Tamil movie entitled 'Kanchana'. Any film where the protagonist gets possessed after drinking lemongrass tea lacks logic. But being bereft of logic is not the main issue with Laxmii. It is the over-the-top treatment, which does a disservice to the transgender community.
For one, Akshay Kumar plays a bloodthirsty transgender here (what could be more regressive?). You could argue that it is just the film's plot element, but everything he does here is so over the top. Laxmii is billed as a horror-comedy, but the real joke (and horror) is on the audience. Akshay's Asif is like a ghostbuster. He takes down fake godmen, who deceive the uneducated class by claiming to free them from the evil spirit.
Asif is married to a Hindu woman, Kiara Advani's 'Rashmi'. The couple is in an interfaith marriage, so they are not allowed into Rashmi's home. The makers explain the couple's predicament through mere dialogue with their nephew. The child is there in Laxmii for the protagonists to drive home their take on inter cast marriage. When the nephew asks Asif why her father does not accept him, the man says, "He's still stuck with Hindu-Muslim conflict".
This is the only time the nephew has a scene of significance in the movie. He virtually disappears in the second half. What is worse is the treatment of Laxmii. Akshay's portrayal of a transgender is so stereotypical. All he does here is ham it up while playing to the gallery. His character, and the makers to be precise, mistakes transgender for a person who talks with a lisp, wears red saree and bangles and walks with feminine feet movement. The makers convey this idea that transgenders are what they are due to hormones. There is no scientific evidence to support that theory. Even it is OK compared to the regressive portrayal of the Akshay Kumar character.
There are two versions of the transgender character here. One, the bloodthirsty role of Kumar, and two, the real Laxmi who possesses him. The character we see in the flashback, played by Sharad Kelkar, look, talk and act more like a transgender than Akshay Kumar does. I am an admirer of Akki, especially in action roles and comedic roles. It is to his credit that he accepts a transgender role in a commercial Hindi film. But, sadly, he is saddled with a one-note role that is also regressive.
Nevertheless, there are a couple of scenes where the makers use the actor's comic timing to good effects. In one scene, Asif/Laxmi beats up his family member and quietly tells his wife, 'Tedha hai par tera hai' (He is twisted, but is yours).
Even if you are willing to look beyond the film's problematic elements, the filmmaking would not draw you into the world of the characters. Take the ghost, for instance. The ghost portions are filmed so amateurishly that you wonder whether to cry or laugh at the scenes. When she is not in Asif's body, the ghost is portrayed virtually like a wig put on a hairdryer.
Laxmii is renamed from the title Laxmmi Bomb after Karni Sena sent a legal notice to its makers, stating that the title disrespects the deity, Lakshmi. In portraying the trans community, it does something even worse. I found the 'Burj Khalifa' song more entertaining than whatever the Akshay Kumar character does here.