Except for a few good ones, Bollywood still struggles to make a decent horror film. Laxmii, unfortunately, is in the bottom rung even in that category.
Raghava Lawrence, the director of Laxmii, makes a Bollywood debut with the remake of his own Tamil film, Kanchana, which was a super hit. Laxmii is a comic horror film (a genre that was so effectively done last time in Stree and Go Goa Gone before that).
Rashmi (Kiara Advani) is hoping that her parents accept her marriage with Asif (Akshay Kumar) as she visits them for their wedding anniversary. While the mother (Ayesha Raza) is accepting, the father (Rajesh Sharma) is still apprehensive, especially after he encounters Asif’s ‘weird’ activities.
The film starts with a progressive tone (which reminds one of Umesh Shukla’s brave attempt at debunking superstitions in Oh My God) as Asif goes about educating people of the realities of godmen and blind beliefs. But, that social progressive tone goes for a toss soon as we are introduced to Laxmii’s ghost. Laxmii is a trans woman whose spirit is still hanging around, hoping to avenge the injustice done to her and plans to use Asif to accomplish that.
The story and the narration begins to falter right at the start as the film goes through a severe identity crisis. There seems so much pressure on everybody involved with this mish-mash of a movie to make it funny that the strain and stress is amply evident on the screen. The two characters, played by Ayesha Raza and Ashwini Kalsekar carry the burden the most as they are a part of a painfully long, badly executed scene where they discover the presence of the spirit. The poor women are reduced to making faces and screeching and hopping around so much that they start looking like the caricatures of their own selves.
This disjointed, jerky, unbelievably clumsy film starts getting unbearable soon after it begins. Subtlety is surely not one of the plus points of this film which goes on to explain and show everything so literally that it stretches to 141 agonising minutes. Akshay Kumar disappoints as he seems to be caught between wanting to be funny, backing a social cause and trying to be dramatically spooky, just like the film. It is a pity as he could have come across much more powerful, the glimpse of which we see in his performance in the climax song. Kiara Advani is more or less a clueless accessory in the film. Every other character in the film gets more screen time than Kiara.
The best part of the film is undoubtedly Sharad Kelkar. Even in this mess of a movie, Kelkar comes up with a brilliant, moving performance. Unfortunately, his efforts go waste in this film. The dialogues (Farhad Samji and team) are uninspiring and unimaginative.
Watch it if you must. Apart from the gimmicky part of a superstar playing a ‘kinnar’, or the desperate attempt at making some socially relevant statements (which fall flat after a point because of inconsistency in the script and dialogues), there is nothing much to write home about.
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Kiara Advani, Ayesha Raza Mishra, Sharad Kelkar, Tarun Arora, Ashwini Kalsekar, Manu Rishi Chadha, Rajesh Sharma and others
Director: Raghava Lawrence
Platform: Disney+ Hotstar