'Laxmii' Review: Akshay Kumar brings on the chills
The horror-comedy will terrify you one way or the other
Revenge they say is a dish best served cold. In the case of Akshay Kumar starrer Laxmii, a remake of the Tamil horror-comedy Kanchana, about a ghost seeking vengeance on those who have wronged her, it's a dish best left unserved, as far as we are concerned.
The Raghava Lawrence directed Bollywood version tries to straddle the horror- comedy genre with equal parts laughter and terror but sadly it comes at the expense of the script.
When Rashmi (Kiara Advani) and Asif (Akshay Kumar) pay a visit to her family to make amends, three years after the inter-faith couple had upped and eloped, all hell breaks loose.
Comedy and horror can be a deadly combo which usually tends to work well at the cinemas. But as a genre, it’s pretty tricky to get right as well - you need to evoke laughter one minute and make the same audience gasp with horror the next. To the makers’ credit the horror that unfolds initially does give one the creeps. Strange sounds of a woman crying, a child playing on a rocking horse and more wake up various members of the family in the middle of the night. But rather than get to the issue at hand, a lot of time is spent wringing every drop of comedy from the resultant situations. During a shopping trip when Asif begins to act odd and drapes a sari around himself to everyone’s shock, the family realises something is seriously amiss.
They are soon brought to the realisation that a transgender named Laxmii has taken over Asif’s body to exact retribution for injustices meted out to her in her previous life.
The comedy is over the top and the acting more so - a demand of the genre no doubt. But somewhere along the way, the ear-piercing ululations, the heart-pounding drum beats and the loud acting buries the sensitivity at the crux of the script - the inequality meted out to transgenders in a society bent on marginalising them and identifying a person only as a male or female.
Also, the characters are forever on a slap fest that can be pretty uncomfortable to watch especially when it’s the women who are at the receiving end of the comic provocation most of the time.
Akshay Kumar plays Laxmii with as much subtlety as a Bollywood hero possessed by an alien spirit. Kiara Advani has little to do but look pretty and act the supportive wife. The rest of the cast liven up the movie with their antics. Rajesh Sharma and Ayesha Mishra as Rashmi’s parents display their comic chops as does Ashwini Kalsekar - though the comedy is all about contorting their facial muscles to the extreme.
Special mention needs to be made of Sharad Kelkar who plays the original Laxmii with a lot of gumption. But isn’t it ironic that a mainstream movie that ostensibly promotes the cause of transgenders ends up casting a man in this role?
Laxmii is loud, garish and over the top - just the kind of movie that is needed to shake Bollywood out of its stupor post the pandemic probably. If you enjoy mindless entertainers that pay lip service to a social cause and believe Khiladi Kumar can make no wrong move on the big screen only then go for Laxmii. Otherwise this is a dish best not consumed.
Director: Raghava Lawrence
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Kiara Advani, Sharad Kelkar, Ashwini Kalsekar, Rajesh Sharma, Ayesha Rasha Mishra
Rating: 3 out of 5
Laxmii is currently playing in UAE theatres