Laxmii - formerly Laxmmi Bomb is one of the hotly anticipated films of the year with hit-machine Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar starring in a woman-like role. He's already on a hit streak of 13 consecutive movies. Due to Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown, Indian cinema has come to a standstill. A few of the smaller and medium level movies released on the OTTs.
But Akshay Kumar's first release of the year - Laxmii - releasing on Disney+ Hotstar is still surprising. And the sign of changing times. It is also the most profitable Indian film releasing this way. Laxmii is the official Bollywood remake of Raghavan Lawrence's Kanchana (Muni 2). The horror comedy is expertly packaged with some effective but crass humour and enough thrills. But it's the underlying message that connected the film with the audience.
So, how different is Laxmii from Kanchana or how similar. Kanchana was a 2011 film. The film was watched by almost all movie buffs across India. It was so popular that you have to be a movie-averse person or living in a cave under a rock mountain not to know this movie.
Lawrence cleverly manipulated the basic setting of the movie. Akshay Kumar's protagonist isn't the jobless jack of Lawrence style hero. Here the protagonist is made a Muslim (secularism, hain?) and is already married. In such matters the obviously Hindu in-laws keep the son-in-law away. But after the girl's mother want her back home for a festival/occasion, they visit the home of the girl. (As usual the Hindu girl's father is still angry with the hero).
And as Akshay Kumar is more of a superstar material and keeping in mind his current stature, the character is turned into an atheist and rationalist rather than Raghavan Lawrence style meek and fearful youngster. As if doesn't believe in all things supernatural. But fate is such that he becomes a carrier to a spirit called Laxmii. How? In the same way as Raghavan Lawrence in Kanchana.
Asif plays cricket with kids in an ominous looking ground and fits the stumps just above a dead body which was buried there a few years ago. Once home he starts to behave odd, and like a woman. And we all know how it ends even if we hadn't watched Kanchana.
Akshay Kumar show all the way
That Akshay Kumar is terrific is an understatement. Though the subject is already rather old and the genre is already beaten to death in South Indian Cinema, he relished playing a challenging role. Raghavan Lawrence playing a role like this is one thing. And a superstar like Akshay doing it is another matter. Akki satisfies even the staunchest of critics. And a feast for his fans is served after a relatively long time.
Kiara Advani is gorgeous and did well in the limited role. Those who already watched and liked Kanchana will surely miss the Iconic duo of Kovai Sarala and Devadarshini. Though it's Tamil flavouerd and overaction written all over it, it is actually their combo which had lent a character to the narration of the series. Sharad Kelkar who played the role of Laxmii Sharma - a hijra is exceptional and elicits all the sympathy and the right emotions from the viewers.
The songs are richly picturised. The background score is superb and takes the proceedings to the next level. The cinematography is excellent. The editing is choppy in some places. The production values are top class. The art department has done a great job. Raghavan Lawrence did an effective work as the director. But the screenplay isn't up to the mark.
Laxmii is one of the hugely anticipated films of the year and even before its release Akshay Kumar scored a big hit and took his hit hit streak to 14 consecutive films. But overall, we may get a feeling that he shouldn't have taken this project. Despite the challenging role, he has already done several films like this. So, Akki the actor shines and carries the film on his shoulders. You can watch it for the humour (not as crass as in Tamil) and Akshay's interpretation of an Iconic role.
Khelo Rating: 3 out of 5