Laxmii is a remake of the Tamil Kanchana/Muni universe. The Hindi version comes after 10 Years of the original where much has been changed. In fact, the Tamizh mainstream movie also has changed the format of narration, we do not get now a separate comedy track in Tamil cinema which was a staple back then. I must admit I have watched all the original films and it is a guilty pleasure.
The premise of the Munni/Kanchana universe is simple. We have a coward underdog hero, who fears ghosts. He gets possessed by a ghost who was killed by villains who were usurping the rights of marginalized. Being Tamizh cinema, the focus on the message and how to milk emotions is something Kanchana gets right most of the time. It tends to get melodramatic, but it works when you buy into it.
Now it has been ten years since the first movie has hit the screens, as a remake, there are tweaks to the story this is the biggest blunder which the filmmaker does, what made the series work the main premise is done away. Why do masala films work is we root for an underdog, who is meet with obstacles and overcomes it forms the crux of the story. That is why we root for the main character in Kanchana, a character who is afraid of ghosts and when it comes to his biggest fear, he does not back away from it.
In the Hindi version, the main character is a rationalist, so the silly but enjoyable gag of the ghost fearing man is completely done away with it. Here we have a character who says he will wear bangles if he sees a ghost and it does not make any sense to say this.
There is a Hindu Muslim love story angle which is barely touched upon, I wonder why. It is surprising that no one in the film is bothered about the age difference between the couple, especially the moustache which adds to Akshay Kumar’s age.
The film work in parts, but those are rare moments. The problem is that the supporting cast of the film is also a let down. In a bid to cater to a larger audience, the horror does not scare you and the comical scenes do not bring a smile on your face.
To his credit, Raghava highlighted the issue of transgenders and represented them correctly in the Kanchana and even in this to an extent. Even the villains in the films address her respectfully as Didi. Credit must also be given to Sharad Kelkar who does make the role caricaturish and gives it the dignity it deserves. But the same cannot be said about Akshay Kumar as he limits the role of Laxmii to a bunch of caricatures.
What worked in Tamil was the casting of Sarath Kumar – an action macho hero in the role of transgender. It gave the audience shock value and dignity to the role because of the star who cast in that role.
Laxmii might have the heart in the right place, but the execution and treatment of the film goes for a toss and it becomes a strain to watch this inferior remake.