Director Raghava Lawrence’s film ‘Laxmii’ had been in the news for all the wrong reasons before its release and all the publicity might have helped the Askhay Kumar starrer grab more eyeballs than it should have. Good for Lawrence. Not for us (the viewer).
Originally titled ‘Laxmi Bomb’, the makers met with backlash due to the word ‘bomb’ after a Hindu deity’s name. The film itself doesn’t justify neither the original title, nor the current. Because ‘Laxmii’ doesn’t actually appear until after a ridiculously slow one hour of the runtime! Instead we have to suffer a model-like Kiara Advani who plays Rashmi and cannot act to engage the viewer at all. What’s worse – Kiara’s acting skills (or the lack of it) seem to have rubbed off on Akshay Kumar who plays both the titular lead & Asif a Muslim businessman who is married to the Hindu Rashmi.
Asif and Rashmi visit her parents for the first time, hoping they would finally be accepted, but instead find themselves grappling with supernatural spirits that are bloodthirsty for revenge. Asif is possessed by the spirit of Laxmii, a transgender woman who was murdered. Akshay Kumar does a better job at playing a possessed woman than a regular guy. He gets certain nuances of Laxmii right and is able to tickle the viewers with his effeminate transformation. However, at-least 30 minutes of the entire film looks like a government ad for social causes, with Akshay Kumar delivering preachy messages on superstitions, blind beliefs and gender discrimination. Some of his dialogues are like he is breaking the fourth wall and directly talking to his audience, telling them “hey guys, this is stupid”.
Which brings me to all the non-sensical stupidity that is passed of in the name of comedy. Raghava Lawrence uses dialogues and exaggerated sequences that are typical to Tamil/Telugu comedies, but just doesn’t work in a Bollywood film. It could be that the regional actors are able to pull of the theater style better, but most of the Bollywood cast is just not able to nail it.
A lot of the blame should go on the shoddy script-writing team that has penned stuff that might have sounded okay on paper and absurd when mouthed in front of the camera. In the middle of the film, there were some funny moments that got loud laughs out of me, but that doesn’t compensate for the largely bland content. The secondary cast that comes into the film in the second half is a LOT BETTER than the primary cast. Sharad Kelkar who plays Laxmi during the flashback was un-recognizable and portrays the transgender woman with a lot of heart. It’s too bad that the real Laxmii gets very little screen-time.
The most disappointing bit about the film was that there is minimal horror and it’s not scary at all. In the entire 2 hour 21 minutes, there is not one good horror sequence. Perhaps Lawrence should’ve hired a lesser known/paid actors for some of the main roles, like he could’ve used a new face instead of Kiara Advani and then save some money that could have been used for better graphics. The CGI was so bad that ‘Laxmii’ that is briefly reminded me of the 2002 horror flick ‘Jaani Dushman’. Bollywood horror movie enthusiasts will know what I mean. One can only be glad that they have the option to press the fast-forward button with ‘Laxmii’, if you choose to watch it from home.
Wow! Jaani Dushman level CGI? That’s some benchmark to aspire for at the bottom end of the spectrum!
And yeah, the publicity did bring a lot more eyeballs to the picture than would have been the case otherwise. I haven’t watched the original Tamil movie but from the reviews I am ready, it seems like the remake hasn’t been able to do much better despite the changing sensibilities and timeframe to develop the script for a more pan-India audience. And this is such a pity because it isn’t often that mainstream bollywood picks up subjects that address the marginalised sections of the society. Sigh.
Haha! Not just as bad as Jaani Dushman, but pretty bad CGI for a 2020 film, if you know what I mean, I haven’t watched the original Tamil film either, would like to check it out. I think the they’ve changed the plot a bit, but looks like a downgrade really.