Before Akshay Kumar sets your home-theatre ablaze today with Laxmii, allow me to take you through a spoiler-free journey about the things director Raghava Lawrence will have to modify before releasing a 2011 story in 2020. I’ll soon jump into the details but before that let’s take a brief look at Kanchana’s place in the Muni franchise.
For the unversed, Laxmii is a Hindi remake of Kanchana which is the second instalment of Raghava’s Muni franchise. In 2007, he came up with Muni which got its sequel in Kanchana (also known as Muni 2: Kanchana) in 2011. This is the film we’ll talk about because that’s the one of which Laxmii is a remake of.
Though, that’s not the end of the franchise. We have the third instalment too in Kanchana 2: Ganga which released in 2015. Going back to Kanchana, it’s a story about Raghava (played by Raghava Lawrence himself), who is afraid of ghosts but somehow gets possessed by one. No, that’s not a spoiler as every of the detail I’ll speak about will be available in the trailer of Laxmii.
The story, penned by Raghava, has multiple facets to it. It’s a horror-comedy at the face but plays around a lot of a grey area which was even tackled by its predecessor. Note these two words, ‘Promoting transphobia’, as there’s a huge chance of debates happening around it after the release of Laxmii. People had issues with the original film for its portrayal of a transwoman as a revenge-taking ghost. There are many blurred lines in the narrative which try to justify what it shows.
A constant complaint regarding most of the movies involving a transgender character has been demonising the trans-character. Films like Super Deluxe & Nagarkirtan are few of the brilliant exceptions having a proper balance and a skilful character sketch. Yes, I can stop cribbing and watch this as a source of entertainment, but only if the titular character skips the stereotypical route to create something novel for itself.
With Akshay Kumar on cast-list, the director has every chance of making this funnier than the original for obvious reasons. Akshay’s comic-timing would make or break the jokes deciding the overall feel of the film. Even the horror portions weren’t out of the box before, but with almost a decade ahead in the filmmaking, we can hope some decent jump scares.
The background score has been a significant issue in the movies of the time back then (2011), and Kanchana suffered from the same. It had a hauntingly melodious theme for Kanchana’s character, but that’s about it. Rest of the portions lacked the thump, which is a blank space Raghava Lawrence would he hoping to fill with Laxmii.
Major portions from the trailer are precisely same as Kanchana (even some dialogues from the Hindi dubbed version), and that’s not a good sign. This means, there’s a high possibility we’re getting the same dish with better packaging. I’ll be posting detailed comments about the same in my full review of Laxmii.
One of the highlights of Kanchana has to be Raghava’s performance, and this is exactly what the makers would be hoping to get out of Akshay. There’s a problem even in this. The remake is coming nine years after the original and things are very much changed. Apart from the ways we treat LGBTQ love stories in our films/shows, 2014 saw the historic verdict of National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India in which trans-people were granted equal rights as the other two genders. This changes the social dynamic around the film, and it’s to be seen if that’s considered in Laxmii.
Regarding the characters of the film, the trailer gives a hint at more subtle characters than the original. We need that & Raghava needs to get rid off the heavy melodrama and loud humour with Akshay Kumar. With a few timed jokes and well-written narrative, he can manage the ship. Throughout the film, Akshay will try to not fall in the caricature zone, and he’ll have to do that every single time he turns into Laxmii.
As a reviewer, I would’ve rated Kanchana at 2.5, but I hope Akshay Kumar’s pushes this number with Laxmii.