Raghava Lawrence's 'Laxmii' is Riddled With Stereotypes
Laxmii stars Akshay Kumar in a lead role.
Certain films are so bad that you cannot watch them. Laxmii, starring Akshay Kumar and Kiara Advani, can safely be put under that category. Placing it in the horror-comedy genre would be absolutely unfair because you neither laugh nor are scared throughout the film.
The biggest irony of Laxmii is that the poster boy of nationalism and conservatism becomes the voice for all marginalised communities. Even if we keep these preconceived notions aside, as the plot develops, one gets more and more agitated seeing what unfolds on screen.
The narrative begins with what is supposed to be a comedy, and gradually steers towards the horror aspect, which includes all the expected stereotypes. A spirit out to avenge a wrongdoing, one family member sensing there's a supernatural presence inside the house and finally everyone being convinced when the spirit possesses Asif (Akshay Kumar). As is bound to happen after this, the spirit starts troubling the family so much that they are forced to call a ‘Pir Baba’. To top it all, Asif is possessed by not one but three spirits, two of whom were murdered along with Laxmii.
Flashback to Laxmii's past, wherein we are informed that she was quite vocal when it came to advocating for equal rights for the transgender community. We are also told that after Laxmii's family disowned her, it was a Muslim man, Abdul Chacha, who adopted Laxmi and gave her a good life.
Now, Abdul Chacha is shown wearing a kurta pyjama and a skull cap, because the director (Raghava Lawrence) wants to hammer it into our heads that he is a Muslim.
The film does get real for a brief moment when Laxmii is shown facing innumerable difficulties when she tries to come out about her identity. But it again catches up to nonsense after an emotional speech delivered by her. Laxmmi grows up to become successful and even purchases a land with her hard-earned money. No sooner do we begin to empathise with the community than the film goes on another tangent, wherein Laxmii is seen fighting men like a hero of a bad Bollywood movie.
Unfortunately, Laxmii's land is usurped by a random 'evil' family that we had no clue existed. Abdul Chacha's specially-abled son Chintu is also present in Laxmii only to add to the fact that all the people who come together have been 'othered' by society.
In her life, Laxmii toiled hard to purchase a land, but once inside Akshay Kumar’s body, her spirit is only obsessed with red sarees, haldi and bangles. These are aspects that a number of people associate with transgenders, and the film does nothing to alleviate the dangerous notions. Laxmii might have had the intention to uplift a community that is scorned upon, but it ends up doing exactly the opposite.
The bottomline of the film is - if you are a transgender you are better off as a ghost or dead.
In striving to become 'woke', Laxmii has failed terribly. At the centre of the movie is a couple - Priya (Kiara Advani) and Asif - in an inter-faith marriage. Priya's father Sachin (Rajesh Sharma) cuts all ties with her the moment she goes ahead and marries Asif. But here's the hilarious part - it takes exactly 30 seconds for Asif to turn Sachin around and accept him with open arms.
P.S.- While Laxmii, who belongs to the transgender community, has purchased a land, women in this country are still requesting Akshay Kumar to purchase them the Burj Khalifa.
(Ankhiyan Ranjan is a student of Jamia Millia Islamia University. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own.The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them).
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