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Laxmii: A Horror Comedy Film Starring Akshay Kumar and Kiara Advani
Laxmii is a 2020 Indian Hindi-language horror comedy film written and directed by Raghava Lawrence, marking his directorial debut in the Hindi film industry. A remake of his own Tamil film Kanchana (2011), it stars Akshay Kumar and Kiara Advani, while Ayesha Raza Mishra, Rajesh Sharma, Ashwini Kalsekar and Sharad Kelkar play pivotal roles.
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The film revolves around a man who gets possessed by the ghost of a transgender person. Kumar, also produced the film under his Cape of Good Films and Fox Star Studios, along with Tusshar Kapoor's newly launched production company, Tusshar Entertainment House and Shabinaa Entertainment. Lawrence co-wrote the script along with Farhad Samji, Sparsh Khetarpal, Tasha Bhambra, with Samji adapting the screenplay and dialogues to the Hindi version.
The film was announced in January 2019, whilst the principal photography began in April 2019 and ended in March 2020. Laxmii was originally scheduled for a theatrical release on 22 May 2020, but the release was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was later streamed digitally through Disney+ Hotstar on 9 November 2020, across India, thus becoming the first big-budget Bollywood film to release on a streaming platform, and was not released theatrically in India, while being released in theatres in the United Arab Emirates, Fiji, Australia and New Zealand. It received mostly negative reviews from critics and audience, with criticism for the writing, screenplay, narration, editing and performances, although Kumar's and Sharad Kelkar's performances were praised.
Asif Ahmed, who doesn't believe in ghosts, lives with his wife Rashmi Rajput and nephew Shaan. They're invited to Rashmi's parents' Ratna and Sachin's house for their silver jubilee. Rashmi's father disapproves of the couple as Rashmi, a Hindu, had eloped with Asif, a Muslim, but her mother is kind to them. They meet Rashmi's brother Deepak and his wife, Ashwini. Asif and Shaan visit the grounds next door that are believed to be haunted. While he is putting stumps into the ground for a game of cricket, the stumps hit a buried body. Blood gets on the stumps but Asif mistakes it for wet soil and washes it off into the house's lemongrass plant. Following this, Ratna, Ashwini, and Deepak all have supernatural experiences in the house. Following a priest's instructions, they confirm that there is indeed a spirit present among them.
Asif gets possessed by the spirit of Laxmii Sharma (Sharad Kelkar), a transgender person who was brutally murdered by MLA Girja (Tarun Arora) and his brother-in-law Gopal (Pracheesh Mishra) for exposing their illegal activities. Laxmii reveals her past to Asif through a series of flashbacks: she was an orphan who was adopted by Abdul Chacha (Mushtaq Khan), a kind Muslim man who ran an orphanage for transgender children. She grew up to be a successful civil engineer who helped many people in need. She also fell in love with Priya (Kiara Advani), a girl who looked exactly like Rashmi.
Laxmii's life took a tragic turn when she came across Girja and Gopal's illegal activities of hoarding expired medicines and adulterating milk. She exposed them to the media and filed a complaint against them. In retaliation, they attacked Laxmii and her family at night. They killed Abdul Chacha and all the children in the orphanage by setting them on fire. They also raped Laxmii and Priya before killing them as well.
Laxmii tells Asif that she wants to take revenge on Girja and Gopal for their crimes. Asif agrees to help her and takes her to Girja's house with Rashmi's family. There, Laxmii confronts Girja and Gopal and kills them brutally. She also reveals her identity to the media and the public, who applaud her courage and justice. Laxmii then leaves Asif's body and thanks him for his help. She also blesses Rashmi and Asif for their happy married life. Asif, who now believes in ghosts, decides to help more spirits in need.
Akshay Kumar as Asif Ahmed / Laxmii Sharma
Kiara Advani as Rashmi Rajput / Priya
Sharad Kelkar as Laxmii Sharma
Ayesha Raza Mishra as Ratna Rajput, Rashmi's mother
Rajesh Sharma as Sachin Rajput, Rashmi's father
Ashwini Kalsekar as Ashwini Rajput, Deepak's wife
Manu Rishi Chadha as Deepak Rajput, Rashmi's brother
Tarun Arora as MLA Girja
Pracheesh Mishra as Gopal, Girja's brother-in-law
Mushtaq Khan as Abdul Chacha, Laxmii's foster father
Laxmii received mostly negative reviews from critics and audience. On IMDb, it has a rating of 2.4 out of 10 based on over 50,000 votes. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 14% based on 7 reviews. The critics praised the performances of Akshay Kumar and Sharad Kelkar, but criticized the writing, screenplay, narration, editing and direction of the film. They also felt that the film failed to do justice to the original Tamil film Kanchana and the sensitive issue of transgender rights.
Some of the critics' comments are as follows:
"Laxmii is a colossal mess. It is loud, over-the-top, stereotypical and not even funny. It is an insult to the horror comedy genre and a waste of talent of Akshay Kumar and Kiara Advani." - Shubhra Gupta, The Indian Express
"Laxmii is a remake that gets almost nothing right: neither the comedy nor the horror works. The only thing that makes you sit through this two-and-a-half-hour film is Akshay Kumar's star presence." - Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV
"Laxmii is a horror show in every sense of the word. It is a painfully long exercise in mediocrity that fails to either entertain or enlighten. It is a disservice to both the original film and the cause of transgender rights." - Rohan Naahar, Hindustan Times
Laxmii is a horror comedy film that tries to deliver a message of social awareness and acceptance of transgender people, but ends up being a poorly executed remake that lacks originality, humour and horror. It is a disappointing film that does not live up to the expectations of the fans of Akshay Kumar and Raghava Lawrence.