Cast: Akshay Kumar, Kiara Advani, Ayesha Raza Mishra, Sharad Kelkar, Tarun Arora, Ashwini Kalsekar, Manu Rishi Chadha, Rajesh Sharma and others
Director: Raghava Lawrence
Akshay Kumar’s Laxmii is a remake of Raghava Lawrence’s 2011 Tamil hit Kanchana. While the South film revived the horror-comedy boom in Tamil cinema, Lawrence gets barely innovative in his Bollywood outing. So, if you have watched Kanchana, this Akshay Kumar-starrer has nothing new in store for you. In a runtime of around two hours and fourteen minutes, you are served a platter which is filled with dialogues laced with forced comedy, some OTT acting in the name of humour and stereotypes. One of the biggest drawbacks in the film is the shoddy execution, which hardly gives us enough reasons to ‘clap’.
Originally titled Laxmmi Bomb, the horror-comedy was supposed to leave the audience laughing aloud on their seats but could only manage to churn out boring humour. The film lacked spice and was not a Diwali blast. Nevertheless, the star cast put up a great show with their performances. Akshay Kumar as Asif/Laxmmi, Kiara Advani as Rashmi, Sharad Kelkar as original Laxmmi and others including Rajesh Sharma, Ayesha Raza Mishra and Manu Rishi Chadha were perfect in their skins.
Although promoted as a horror-comedy, Laxmii is neither scary nor funny. The film is too haphazard in its storytelling to leave any impact. It reminds you of the brainless Bollywood efforts of the eighties and the nineties where ‘script’ was something that seemed to be written on an ad hoc basis, even as the film was being shot. You get that feeling often while watching Laxmii — as if they didn’t have a bound script to start with.
The plot starts with Akshay Kumar and his wife Kiara Advani being called by her mother to pay a visit for the 25th wedding anniversary. Her parents’ anniversary and Kiara’s elder brother’s role is played by Manu Rishi and wife Ashwini Kalsekar (Ummm… something to think about). Akshay plays the role of Asif, a Muslim guy who finds it hard to get accepted by Kiara’s family. But that wasn’t an important element at all. He comes, he conquers their hearts and gets possessed by a transgender person’s spirit in no time.
Raghava Lawrence forayed into Bollywood with his forte of horror-comedy, but Kanchana is a decade-old formula. Bollywood redefined horror-comedy with Stree released in 2018 which set a high benchmark for the genre. The film’s only X-factor is Akshay Kumar and watching him in a different space. The female lead Kiara Advani has nothing much to do, but her cherubic look and subtle face bring calming moments in the film.
Sharad Kelkar hits the bullseye as the transgender Laxmi. Unfortunately, Raghava Lawrence barely gives him enough screen time. The rest of the cast including Ayesha Raza Mishra, Ashwini Kalsekar, Rajesh Sharma and Manu Rishi Chadha end up as annoying characters who put you off with their loud humour.
Claiming to break stereotypes by heavily stereotyping people across the board is a device bad Bollywood never seems to get enough of all the transgender characters clap their hands and dance around a fire; a good Muslim character wears a ‘topi’ and beard, and everyone else speaks their lines in the hope of making us laugh. No one succeeds, not even Akshay, who can be good when he isn’t taking himself too seriously. The only one who does take his role seriously is Kelkar (effective), as Laxmii-the-transgender, who is wronged.