Laxmii is a well-intentioned Akshay Kumar film that superficially tries to tackle the stigma against the trans community and highlight their plight. But alas, it is nothing but a loosely connected string of atrocious acting, directing and writing choices that definitely do not help the message. The film, unfortunately, ends up being a mess.
Laxmii is the remake of the 2011 Tamil film, Kanchana. Asif (Akshay Kumar), a staunch, albeit arrogant, believer of the sciences, goes to visit his in-laws’ house for the first time since the controversial inter-religion marriage caused a rift between his wife, Priya (Kiara Advani) and her family.
When he marches onto a haunted piece of land, near their home, Asif gets possessed by the spirit of an oppressed, unjustly murdered, transgender woman, Laxmii, whose sole purpose is to exact revenge on those who wronged her.
Akshay Kumar is his usual, unabashed but charming self when he plays Asif. The problem arises when he plays Laxmii. Both the performance and character is inconsistent. The possession is used both for laughs and scares but manages neither.
Kiara Advani as Priya is sub-par. Her performance seems more fake than any of the other actors. Though the majority of the blame here probably goes to the script.
Somewhere in this mess of a film, the brilliant Rajesh Sharma, who plays Priya’s father, who stood in strict opposition to her marriage, delivers a half-decent performance.
Sharad Kelkar is brilliant as Laxmii. He is the only character in the film who is not a caricature and manages to do justice to his role.
Laxmii does bring forth several progressive ideas such as acceptance of religion and transgenders, but somewhere along the way, loses its own stance.
The film’s scenes are well lit. The set designs are also decent throughout the narrative and also for the multiple songs within the film.
This film somehow manages to get a lot of thing wrong and fails at every level fabulously.
The biggest reason for this 50 crore disaster is the writer-director, Lawrence Raghvendra, who made the original Kanchana as well. The jokes are terrible and almost never land despite having a cast renowned for their comic timing. All characters are underwritten and inconsistent.
The story itself is regressive and problematic, to say the least. The transgender community is represented in the most stereotypical fashion. The film is also deeply misogynistic. Kiara Advani’s character, Rashmi is testament to that. From the casual bigotry to the misplaced songs, this film feels lost in time. It has been made at least a decade too late.
Moving on to the direction, which leaves a lot to be desired. All the actors are always over the top in every scene. The film neither manages to conjure a scare or a laugh. It’s puzzling how Laxmii can even be categorised as a horror-comedy.
It also blatantly copies Pennywise, the demon clown from Stephen King’s It (2017), in one scene.
Despite having quite a budget, the technical side isn’t any better. Laxmii constantly deals with dubbing issues. All dialogues in the film seem to be very poorly dubbed.
The cinematography is yet again over the top, which in itself, is not an inherently bad thing. But the main problem is that the swift and extraordinary camera movement prevent any tension from being built, neither does it help the comedy.
The editing too follows the lead of the cinematography. A simple shot of a cup of tea coming to a boil is made into a seizure-inducing sequence and reminiscent of the infamous editing in TV serials.
Laxmii uses a lot of special effects. Just like the script itself, the special effects too, seem like a product from the 90s.
Some films are great, some are so bad that they are good. Laxmii is neither.
This film is only worth watching for die-hard Akshay Kumar fans.