Tag Archives: Laxxmi Bomb

Movie Review: Laxmii (2020)

0.5 Stars (out of 4)

Watch Laxmii on Hotstar

Is it possible for a film to be longer than its actual runtime? Laxmii sure feels like it is. Every time I paused the movie — which released directly on the streaming service Hotstar — I swear, there was always more time remaining than there was before.

Laxmii isn’t just boring, although it is painfully that. The more you watch, the more you realize how vapid it is. Plot elements and characters are plucked from a generic pool of comedy tropes and carelessly thrown together, with no attempt at continuity or resolution. Any social issues raised are examined with so little depth that the film offers no meaningful insight into them. One might forgive these flaws if Laxmii was funny, but it isn’t.

Akshay Kumar plays Asif, a debunker of superstitions. He stops a public demonstration against a suspected witch, exposing the fraudulent holy man conducting it. The woman on trial — who has a swollen lip and visible hand-prints on her face from a beating doled out by her husband — tells Asif, “You saved my marriage.” Ack. Laxmii is way, way too comfortable with violence against women, with this sequence being but one example of many.

Frequent violence against women also makes the film feel dated, as though it’s cobbled together from elements from movies from decades ago. Take Asif’s marriage to Rashmi (Kiara Advani). She’s introduced in one of the most tired ways: fretting that Asif forgot their wedding anniversary. Advani isn’t given much to work with in Laxmii, but her performance is not good. Neither is Kumar’s.

Asif and Rashmi are estranged from her family because her father Sachin (Rajesh Sharma) disapproves of Asif’s Muslim faith. Religious differences are irrelevant to the plot, but rather than write real conflict, writer-director Raghava Lawrence went with the default reason Bollywood movie parents disapprove of their child’s choice of spouse.

Let’s talk about Rashmi’s family. The logic that went into casting the actors makes no sense. The real age of the actor is in parentheses in the list below, followed by each actor’s role in Laxmii:

  • Akshay Kumar (53 years) — Rashmi’s husband, Asif
  • Ashwini Kalsekar (50 years) — Rashmi’s sister-in-law, Ashwini
  • Manu Rishi Chadha (49 years, 10 months) — Rashmi’s brother, Deepak
  • Rajesh Sharma (49 years, 1 month) — Rashmi’s father, Sachin
  • Ayesha Raza Mishra (43 years) — Rashmi’s mother, Ratna
  • Kiara Advani (28 years) — Rashmi

Somehow, Rashmi’s brother is played by an actor older than the actors playing his parents. Rashmi’s mother is younger than everyone except for Rashmi. And here’s the thing: everyone looks pretty much their real age (save for some “old lady” makeup for Rashmi’s mom). Besides the ick factor of Kumar romancing someone 25 years his junior, trying to pass Rishi Chadha off as young enough to be Sharma’s or Raza Mishra’s son is preposterous.

Asif and Rashmi head to her family’s house for her parents 25th wedding anniversary (*record scratch sound effect*) — hold on, Manu Rishi Chadha is supposed to be younger than 24 years old or younger?!? Rarely does a review warrant calling out the casting director, but what the heck is going on here, Parag Mehta?

Strange things start happening when Asif ignores advice and gets some kids to play cricket on a vacant lot that everyone insists is haunted — because it is. [Side note: one of those kids is Asif’s orphaned nephew Shaan, who disappears in the second half of the movie and is never mentioned again.] When Asif brings his cricket stumps into the house covered in blood and human tissue that no one acknowledges as such, he brings the spirit of the dead person with him. The ghost terrorizes Ratna and Ashwini, who do lots and lots and lots of screaming that is supposed to be funny but isn’t. They aren’t able to exorcise the spirit before it takes possession of Asif.

The spirit is that of a transgender woman named Laxmii (Sharad Kelkar), who loves fashion and beauty treatments. Watching Akshay Kumar sashay and wear bangles is not the height of comedy that director Lawrence thinks it is. Nor does the fact that Asif is supposed to be possessed by a woman at the time make the image of Akshay Kumar striking Ashwini Kalsekar any less troubling.

Flashbacks show how Laxmii met her untimely fate and explain why her spirit has been unable to move on. We also see her give a touching speech about how transgender people deserve the same love and opportunities as everyone else. That could have made the story feel progressive, had Lawrence not promptly followed it by reinforcing harmful superstitions about the supernatural abilities of transgender people.

Perhaps it’s too much to expect more from a movie that thought these cringeworthy lines from Asif were a fitting way to sum up its moral message: “Frankly there wasn’t much difference between Laxmii and me. I would eradicate the fear of ghosts in people. And Laxmii wanted to eradicate the ghost of inequality from society.” It’s so, so terrible.

Links

Streaming Video News: September 16, 2020

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with an October 2 release date for the Netflix Original movie Serious Men, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

I also updated my Upcoming Bollywood Release Dates page (where I keep track of Hotstar news) with a newly announced November 9 release date for Akshay Kumar’s Laxxmi Bomb. The announcement follows a Bollywood Hungama report yesterday that Hotstar planned to hold the release of its three remaining “Multiplex” titles — Laxxmi Bomb, Bhuj, and The Big Bull — until after the conclusion of the Indian Premier League cricket season in early November. While it’s common practice for major movies to avoid releasing theatrically during cricket tournaments, I suspect the fact that all three movies are still finishing filming and post-production influenced the decision as well.

So what does that mean for streaming releases in the near term? Netflix seems content to debut one or two new films or series per month. Amazon Prime quietly launched a few new Indian series in recent weeks but hasn’t made any major movie announcements. I suspect Laxxmi Bomb‘s release date indicates that things will be relatively quiet until around Diwali in mid-November. Last month, Bollywood Hungama scooped a potential Diwali release for Varun Dhawan’s Coolie No. 1 on Amazon Prime, so we’ll see if that comes true.

On a related note, even if theaters in India reopen next month, don’t expect any major flicks to be first out of the gate (especially after the tepid response to Tenet). Kiara Advani-starrer Indoo Ki Jawani purportedly wants to be first in theaters.

Finally, I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with a bunch of older Hindi titles added in the last two days. Check ’em out:

[Disclaimer: all of my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]

Streaming Video News: May 8, 2020

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Amazon Prime with the addition of about a dozen Indian titles in the last several days, including the 2020 pictures Valayam (Telugu) and Dhauli (Hindi) and Praveen Kumar’s new Tamil stand-up comedy special Mr. Family Man. Amazon also released the trailer for its new Hindi crime series Paatal Lok, which debuts May 15.

I also updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with the trailer for the short-run Hindi horror series Betaal, which debuts on May 24. It’s directed by Patrick Graham, who previously directed the horror series Ghoul for Netflix (as is obvious from the look and vibe of the trailer):

In other news, it looks like the two big releases originally set to face-off in theaters on May 22 will now be heading straight to streaming video. Bollywood Hungama reports a likely June release of Akshay Kumar’s Laxxmi Bomb on Hotstar. The makers of that weekend’s other big flick — Salman Khan’s Radhe — are also considering a streaming release, but they’re asking in the neighborhood of $30 million for the streaming rights (per Bollywood Hungama). The Abhishek Bachchan-Aditya Roy Kapur film Ludo may also head to streaming after missing its April release date. All of these decisions are predicated on the current prevailing industry sentiment that theaters won’t reopen until September at the earliest.

[Disclaimer: all of my Amazon links include an affiliate tag, and I may earn a commission on purchases made via those links. Thanks for helping to support this website!]