5 Thoughts I Had While Watching Laxmmi Bomb Trailer. Mainly Ki, Akshay Kumar’s Trans Act Feels Caricaturish, No?
The nation’s morale’s completely down, thanks to pandemics, politics, and all the other crap that’s been going on. It’s going to take the combined efforts of cricket (IPL) and movies, two of India’s favourite religions, to extricate it from the doldrums and into cheerful spirits. Unfortunately, Bollywood’s kind of in the zone where it can’t get anything right. But methinks, an Akshay Kumar movie has the potential to change that. Sure, there’s a few boycott hashtags trending for his Laxmmi Bomb has well. (His recent Instagram video about Sushant Singh Rajput’s passing has something to do with it.) But he is a certified entertainer and Box Office saviour who comes through for Bollywood like few other actors do. The Laxmmi Bomb trailer dropped as promised on Friday morning. The horror comedy, which will release on Disney+ Hotstar Multiplex, stars Akshay Kumar, Kiara Advani, Ashwini Kalsekar, Ayesha Raza Mishra, Rajesh Sharma and Manu Rishi. It is directed by Raghava Lawrence.
The horror comedy is an adaptation of Lawrence’s Tamil movie Muni 2: Kanchana, which revolves around a man who gets possessed by the ghost of a transgender woman, who wants to extract revenge from those who did wrong to her and her family.
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Now Laxmmi Bomb is one highly anticipated film with a lot of diverse opinions surrounding its theme. Since the film is a story of a trans woman’s ghost, there’s a chunk of the the audience that wonders why a cis actor like Akshay Kumar was cast in the role. Don’t we need more queer representation in our movies? Another section is just glad that a trans character is headlining a Bollywood film, and not as an antagonist or something, but as a character that might be likeable and have audience root for. And yet another section of viewers is just looking forward to a massy entertaining horror comedy, which is a genre Akki has proved he can ace. Bhool Bhulaiyya is a cult favourite after all!
The Laxmmi Bomb trailer begins with Akshay Kumar’s character professing his disbelief in ghosts, while some kind of a criminal act happens in the background. He then is seen wooing Kiara Advani in Dubai by waxing eloquent about the Burj Khalifa. Hmph. Next is a montage of Kiara’s family members, who she and her husband have now come to live with. It’s here where Akki’s going to be possessed by a ghost, making him act all effeminate and the family super suspicious. A bunch of jump scares interspersed with typical Bollywood humour follow, as Akshay Kumar’s transformation into a woman begins. Of course, eventually, revenge is hers.
Here are five thoughts I had while watching the Laxmmi Bomb trailer:
1. The Burj Khalifa song lyrics aside, both Kiara Advani and Akshay Kumar looks really hot in it!
Ooof that golden eyeshadow on Kiara is, pun intended, bomb AF! And Akshay Kumar in that pink blazer and hat looks rather suave. In fact, it reminded me of him in the video of Bhool Bhulaiyya‘s title track! (I’m trying not to dwell on the fact that once again, we’ve got a male actor romancing an actress half his age.)
2. I was expecting some Bhool Bhulaiyya-level humour. But doesn’t Akshay Kumar’s trans act feel a tad caricaturish?
I am a massive Bhool Bhulaiyya fan. Like, I can quote the entire movie to ya. So naturally, with the genre, the lead actor and the whole adapted from a South Indian film similarity, I was expecting Laxmmi Bomb’s humour to also be akin Bhul Bhulaiyya’s. But to do that, the magic has to be in the writing and dialogues. And I kind of find that missing here. These actors all have perfect comic timing, that much I am certain about. So I really hope that there’s something better in the offering when we see the whole movie.
Furthermore, I felt that Akshay Kumar’s trans act was more caricaturish than scary. So now the scary part is ki appropriation toh nahi hoga na? The treatment of queer characters, sparse as they are in our movies, has always been debatable. While I do want to see more queer actors being cast in mainstream movies, I’m kinda supportive that a mainstream actor was cast in the role. Unfortunately, we live in a country where the audience will need to be gently nudged in the direction before they can accept the better alternative.
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3. Was Akshay Kumar’s scream at the end of the trailer an ode to Ashutosh Rana’s iconic scream from their movie Sangharsh?
This is the scene from Sangharsh, a movie that starred Akshay Kumar and Preity Zinta as well.
And here’s Akki doing it in Laxmmi Bomb!
Now sure, Rana’s scream is a scare tactic, while Kumar’s scream literally manifests the pain that the ghost inhabiting him must be feeling. But the resemblance feels uncanny!
4. I’m kinda hoping the female characters in the film have more to offer than just ‘hero support’.
Considering Laxmmi Bomb is a story about a wrong woman extracting her justice from society, and has at least three female characters that we know of, I hope there’s more to their characters than just being fillers. Kiara Advani’s character has such scope, considering it is her husband who is undergoing this whole transformation. As a woman, how does she tackle this? Does she offer support? Does he become an ally? Or is she just another pretty face here? I hope there’s more!
5. I have great expectations from Akshay Kumar’s character arc, because it’s going to make or break the film for me.
From the opening dialogue in the film, it is evident that Akshay Kumar’s character thinks of ghosts as something only weak people believe in. He instantly accords an effeminate action of wearing bangles to the notion of being scared by ghosts. Clearly, this guy is a product of patriarchy and seems to get his sense of humour from Kapil Sharma Show, because he seems to hate his in-laws and has a certain demeanour that indicates he ‘respects women’ without understanding them.
And that’s why, it is important for me to know how being possessed by a woman’s ghost changes him on an atomic level, when it comes to his core values. He must’ve felt her pain and agony, and all the ways a woman is constantly let down, mistreated and denied justice by the society. Does it make him a better man? What is the final message of the film? That’s going to be so important for me as a viewer.
Laxmmi Bomb will release on Disney+Hotstar on November 9, 2020.