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‘Laxmii’ is Only a Sad Excuse in the Name of Representation

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With much controversy and conflicts surrounding the release of ‘Laxmii,’ it was finally released on the 9th of November. The movie which tries to convey to the viewers the plight of the Hijra community ends up being a disrespectful excuse for representation. The movie heavily imbibes religious and spiritual layers which can only be ascertained to appease certain communities. Moreover, the titular character of the movie, Laxmii, is a trans woman but is played by cis-gendered actors. This comes as a huge blow to the trans community who had their voice hijacked. Directed by Raghava Lawrence and starring Akshay Kumar, Kiara Advani and Sharad Kelkar as the protagonists, the movie fails in terms of concept and execution both.

The movie begins with a stereotypical spirit haunting an abandoned field. Mother caution their daughters to not even look at the ground and any object that touches the field is doomed forever. The director then makes the audience meet Asif (Akshay Kumar) a skeptic who investigates and debunks myths of ghosts, spirits and everything beyond. He is married to Priya (Kiara Advani) and for their marriage anniversary, they travel to Priya’s hometown to mend relations with her family. The movie follows a slow descent into cringe-worthy dialogues and scenes which evoke sensibilities of 1980s horror.

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‘Laxmii’ tries extremely hard to emulate ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa.’ It has obvious references strewn across which only make the viewer cringe and rarely laugh. In the year 2020, the movie relies too heavily on slapstick humour which falls flat. The characters seem to be constantly in a state of hypomania. Consequently, they only induce additional anxiety within the audience with the caricatures they present on the screen. Advertised as a horror-comedy, the movie lacks in both the fields. Bollywood has evolved in terms of horror from unintentionally hilarious imagery to more understated ones. However, ‘Laxmii’ undoes all the evolvement in the 2 hours and 21 minutes of its run time.

Lawrence tries to be politically sound by showing inter-religion marriage but is only able to barely touch upon the subject. Consequently, the movie follows an obsessive spiral down mythical elevation. Through intersecting religious beliefs and practices we witness a shoddy tale of revenge and adventure. Accordingly, the script falters on multiple facets. It shifts irresponsibly between scenes and is unable to provide a smooth transition between them. There are songs like Burj Khalifa randomly thrown at the viewers for the sake of entertainment. However, they end up being more frustrating than entertaining.

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The movie comes as a rude shock to the trans community who already have been fighting against the regressive Trans Act. Furthermore, the movie becomes contemptuous by furthering the cis-gaze. It only propagates the voyeuristic oppressions that the Trans community have been rallying against. Throughout the movie, Akshay Kumar blatantly appropriates lives of the Hijra and Trans community. The trauma inflicted on them on a regular basis merely becomes a plot point to attract viewers to the movie. The movie which promised itself to be a grand gesture for the betterment of the Trans community only succeeds in undoing the tiny aspects of development in terms of representation that Bollywood had reached. ‘Laxmii’ is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.

 

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