Genre: Hindi horror comedy
Run time: 141 min
Release platform: Disney+ Hotstar Premium
Director, writer: Raghavendra Lawrence
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Kiara Advani, Ayesha Raza Mishra, Sharad Kelkar, Rajesh Sharma, Ashwini Kalsekar
IMDB rating: 2.2/10; My rating: 5/10
Background: Laxmii is a 2020 Hindi comedy-horror film written and directed by Raghavendra Lawrence as his first Bollywood directorial. This remake of his own 2011 Tamil film Kanchana, stars Akshay Kumar and Kiara Advani in the lead roles.
Aasif (Akshay Kumar) is a marble and granite businessman who is also some sort of ‘ghostbuster’ with an organisation that dispels myths and taboos about ghosts, jinns and spirits. Asif’s character is such a rationalist that he publically commits to wear chudiyaan (bangles) if he ever encounters a real ghost someday. Seems like Raghavendra couldn’t risk his superstar’s on-screen macho image, hence we see a paradigm shift in the protagonist’s image from a timid guy in Kanchana to a macho, rationalist ghostbuster in Laxmii.
Sharad Kelkar (Laxmii) has a relatively small yet strong role which actually adds a good pace in the second half. Sharad has been proving his acting acumen since 2004. He made his television debut on the show Aakrosh which was aired on Doordarshan and after that there was no looking back. He has worked with great actors on numerous TV shows and movies like Tanhaji, Ram Leela, Housefull 4 and many more.
The remaining cast including Ayesha Raza Mishra, Ashwini Kalsekar, Rajesh Sharma and Manu Rishi Chadha were the annoying characters who put you off with their loud humour which failed to turn into laughter or claps.
Logic is what we have never expected from the genre ‘Bollywood horror’ so its absence here was not disappointing. But Akshay changing four outfits within ten seconds in the same shot during the dining table sequence was a sheer murder of logic!
Storyline: Rashmi and Asif plan to visit the former’s estranged family to seek blessings and validation for them on their elopement and inter-caste marriage, especially from Rashmi’s father Sachin (Rajesh) who has disowned Rashmi after her marriage. Sachin’s love for lemongrass tea proves to be a fulcrum on which Asif tries to balance his marriage and the father-daughter love deficiency, but little do they know that their family reunion would soon turn into a run-in with a bloodthirsty spirit of a transgender, who seeks revenge on her wrongdoers.
Despite the sloppy screenplay, slow story, clichéd punches and uninteresting music, Akshay manages to deliver some thrills in the Bam Bholle song and the climax sequences with Sharad Kelkar. The song Bhurj Khalifa was a real pain to the ears for many, yet Kiara’s energetic performance let viewers sit through the whole song (a benefit of OTT streaming is that you can skip such songs like I did).
The first half was really slow and boring in which the whole cast tried to create a build-up to reach the point where Akshay is taken to a peer baba for his chastening; from here the film changes gear and Sharad Kelkar enters. The sari shop scene was a hard one to contemplate and execute as that was the point where we see the actual transition of Akshay from Asif to Laxmii. But the question arises: was the ghost real? Was Asif really possessed by some spirit? Ironically speaking, did Asif really wear bangles as committed? Was all the hype created during the initial 60 minutes really worth the climax? Check it out for yourself on Disney+ Hotstar Premium.
My verdict: Viewers are recommended not to judge Laxmii as just-a-Hindi-remake of super-hit Kanchana to avoid creating biases, especially if you have watched Kanchana. I’ll rate Laxmii a more generous 5/10 and that too only for Akshay and Sharad’s flawless justification of a transgender character. Akshay scores a brownie point for trying to do something out of his comfort zone and adding one more social issue to his portfolio after OMG — Oh My God!, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Pad Man, etc.