Movie Review: ‘Laxmii’ – 2/5
STORY: Rashmi (Kiara Advani) sees it as an opportunity to mend ties when her estranged mother invites her over for their 25th wedding anniversary. The woman, who has secretly been pining to reunite, takes her husband Asif (Akshay Kumar) along. Soon after, the family home is witness to strange occurrences and Asif is turning out to be someone he is not – a vengeful spirit, Laxmii.
REVIEW: He is a self-proclaimed ‘hard-core lover’ and there are very few things in life Asif wouldn’t do for his spouse of three years. It is this very reason that prompts him to pack his bags and rush off to Daman to patch things up between Rashmi and her family, and maybe procure a place in their hearts for him, too.“He runs granite and marbles business and is a senior member at the Jagoo Aavam committee; they are fighting the superstitious beliefs surrounding ghosts and spirits,” declares Rashmi – proudly – when quizzed about her husband’s profession. So when the neighbourhood kids refuse to play at the adjacent ground because an evil spirit dwells there, Asif, quite expectedly, brushes it off and pledges to play a full IPL game on that abandoned land.
Soil nailing, very dramatically, changes the Earth above and beneath – dark, ferocious clouds looming around at an alarming pace, while dried autumn leaves caress the faces. The witch sleeping underneath that piece of turf has been shaken awake, and now, she must follow the culprit home: Asif. Too dramatic? So is the plot of this film, read on. When the spirit does make her way into that home, it’s complete mayhem and madness. Who is it? What does she want? And why is Asif having a little escapade of his own with sarees and bangles? Questions aplenty, answers lie in ‘Laxmii’ – literally and figuratively.
What makes or breaks a comedy are its one-liners, the actors’ timing and the relevance of the jokes and where they land. Unfortunately, Akshay Kumar-Kiara Advani starrer ’Laxmii’ has none. The project is ambitious and has cherry-picked an interesting angle to inculcate into the narrative – of the ghost being a transgender with unfinished business – but the execution is over the top and melodramatic even by comedy standards. The first half is laden with random bickering among characters that are flat-out pointless.
Masala movie-making man Farhad Samji’s adaptive screenplay has many a loophole and there are inconsistencies that would be criminal to look past. Case in point: If Kiara’s parents are celebrating their 25th anniversary and her character has eloped three years back, how is an evidently much older Deepak (Manu Rishi Chadha) her elder brother? Samji tries hard to hit the bull’s eye with this one by conjuring up chaos at peak moments, but with a cattle farmer being referred to as ‘Hi, cow man! Andar aao,’ there wasn’t much hope whatsoever. Was there?
Akshay Kumar’s quite the charmer as a staunch atheist and then a man grappling with demonic possession, but then again, when is he not? And Kiara Advani balances his act out with her sensible demeanour and that pretty smile. Rajesh Sharma as Papa is a henpecked husband trying to convince everyone – and himself really – that he is in charge of his life. But with a tanker of a wife (Ayesha Raza Mishra) and a jagrata-crazed son, Deepak (Manu Rishi Chadha), Sharma portrays the role of an inactive player in denial with comfort. Ayesha Raza Mishra and Ashwini Kalsekar’s Ashwini do all the screaming and hollering; not a single scene squeezes even a mild grin out of the viewers; if that was the intent at all.
Raghava Lawrence’s direction feels like an effort to overcompensate for the lack of clarity and humour in its plot; the discomfort and need to polish up is visible and quite obvious. The music rendered by Tanishk Bagchi, Anup Kumar and Shashi-Khushi, though dropped at random intervals, is hummable. Peppy tunes like ‘Burjkhalifa’ and ‘BamBholle’ resonate for their quirkiness (good quirk, that is!). However, the same cannot be said about Amar Mohile’s background score – tepid and misplaced.
‘Laxmii’ sets out to be a satire against age-old beliefs and biases – we get it! – but the insipidness of the narrative and whatever follows thereon, butchers the lessons it originally desires to impart.
Looking back, the reiterating catchphrase happens to be ‘Maine kuch nahin dekha… yahaan koi nahin hain’ and that’s the vibe we’re latching on to at the moment.