The portrayal of societal causes in films requires a detailed dissection of all the layers and sensitivities surrounding the topic, pertaining to relevant times. This is exactly what Laxmii as a film lacks.
The apparent ‘Horror-Comedy’ neither has any scenes that send chills down your spine nor any laughs. The comic timing is utterly disappointing along with some terrible one liners. One expects more from the cast but if they were directed to deliver melodramatic brainless performances they did exceedingly well.
Asif, who is a Muslim, doesn’t believe in ghosts and is married to a Hindu, Rashmi. In the first few minutes of the film, their nephew makes a very surface level remark about Hindu-Muslim conflicts, which by the way is not even a central theme of the film.
The film is a remake of the Tamil film Kanchana and is directed by Raghava Lawrence. The film might have set out with a cause to leave an impact but it is poorly executed in almost every sense. The songs appear abruptly almost out of nowhere and there is inconsistency throughout. The soundtrack has some tunes that have the ability to go viral but there is no depth or matter when it comes to the songs.
The first half of the film is medium paced yet inconclusive with the second half trying to incorporate too much in less time. The second half is chaotic and mismanaged in terms of continuity.
What stands out as being most disappointing is the stereotypical portrayal of the transgender community. The whole angle and backing behind Laxmii’s vengeance are typically outdated and outlandish; the prototypical masala film villain who takes over the land of someone who is marginalised. The main plot and the background of Laxmii is revealed much later in the film when the viewer is already sapped. Actors like Ayesha Raza Mishra, Ashwini Kalsekar, Rajesh Sharma have been underutilised and delivered highly melodramatic versions of reality. Kiara Advani seems to be in the film just for the face value with no such importance when it comes to her character sketch. The Khiladi, Akshay Kumar has performed and been a part of various films that raise a social concern but Laxmii does the opposite of creating an impact (at least a good one). His performance might be true to what he was asked of but his usually appealing comic timing fails to impress in Laxmii.
Laxmii tries to explore various themes like inter faith marriage, transgender rights, supersitions, vengeance but ends up refuting all that it stands for. The film ends up stereotyping the stereotypes it initially stands against. Something that Bollywood as of late is very carelessly incorporating into films is the unnatural portrayal of marginalised communities and Laxmii is no different.
There are numerous loopholes and senseless additions (even of characters) in the film along with depiction of superstitions that stand nil as on date, barring a few. The screeching, shouting and predictable horror scenes along with ill-landed and badly timed jokes make it excruciatingly hard to sit throughout the film. The clapping, ‘kinnar’ name calling, style of walking and unnecessary expressions might make certain viewers uncomfortable. The film is loud, over the top and in your face. The screenplay lacks a tight grip considering it was supposed to be a horror flick and the line-up is inconsistent.
While standing up for something as sensitive as transgender rights, given the relevant scenario, it is very important for the filmmaker to incorporate the reality rather than the perception. A ten-minute monologue about how society perceives the transgender community does not compensate for the atrocious portrayals throughout the film which insinuate certain stigmas rather than eradicating them.
Unless you have some ‘superpower’ that can keep you glued to the screen for almost two and a half hours, Laxmii fails to retain attention.
Now streaming on Disney+Hotstar.