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The trailer of Laxmmi Bomb, a 'horror-comedy' movie starring Akshay Kumar and Kiara Advani, is set to release on 9 November 2020 on Disney+ Hotstar. A remake of Tamil film Kanchana, directed by Raghava Lawrence who is also directing the Hindi remake, Laxmmi Bomb is being hailed as a step towards trans inclusion by many people and some transgender activists as well. You will be left wondering why, as you take a closer look at the trailer.
The Laxmmi Bomb trailer begins with Akshay Kumar, a big-biceped man, declaring that he will start wearing bangles if he ever sees a ghost. Yup, that's a line you would have thought died with the 1990s! But it hasn't. Here, femininity is equated with fear as well as irrational, superstitious thinking - ghosts being something that only women believe in. Wearing bangles (read: being feminine) is a fitting punishment for a hypermasculine protagonist whose beliefs are proved to be wrong. In essence, what starts as treating feminine traits and expressions as an abomination in a man, further devolves into the propagation of stereotypes associated with transgender persons in Laxmmi Bomb.
A few more seconds into the trailer of Laxmmi Bomb, apparently the ghost of a transfeminine person possesses Akshay Kumar and he starts wearing sarees and bangles, (punishment for not believing in ghosts?) and starts living life "queen size".
Exaggerated movements with high-pitched dialogues follow. The Laxmmi Bomb trailer has reduced trans identities as a mere performance of gender. There is an underlying ignorance of the host of issues faced by trans persons - dysphoria, rejection by families, misgendering, lack of access to public utilities - life is anything but a royal "queen size" experience.
Gender Dysphoria, for instance, is the stress which trans persons go through because the body and the mind are not aligned. In other words, their sex and the gender assigned at birth do not match. This causes extreme distress among trans persons. ALSO READ: Gender Dysphoria And Mental Health: Know More About The Symptoms And Treatments
Further, the family which is expected to be a safe space turns out to be a place which is violent and oppressive as they try to make the person toe the line and conform to assigned gender roles and expressions. In popular media, this aspect is largely missing - a problem which could be solved by having scriptwriters, directors and actors who are transgender persons. Perhaps such intricacies are not to be expected in a 'horror-comedy' film meant to pander to people's already deep-rooted beliefs.
On the other hand, as there is such a dearth of movies featuring a transgender or queer person as the leading protagonist, people from the community tend to feel excited about whatever representation, although skewed, is there. However, filmmakers need to do some serious introspection on such superficial, stereotypical and callous depictions of the marginalised in its films. In fact, people who are experts on social issues are literally a phone call and .0008% of a big banner film's budget away. And yet not always approached.
According to an NDTV article , Akshay Kumar claims, "In my career of 30 years, this is my most mentally intense role." Let us hope that the actual movie reflects some of that mental intensity. Let us also hope we get to understand what Kiara Advani does in the movie except being the girlfriend with a wacky family. ALSO SEE: Laxmmi Bomb: Kiara Advani Kicks Off The Promotions With A Gharara Set Worth INR 98,000!
Raghava Lawrence said in a statement to FilmiBeat  that his film has an important message about transgender people. "The story was created to give the audience a mix of horror and comedy experience and also for the first time I tried to involve an important social message about transgenders into the horror-comedy genre...I run a trust and few transgenders approached my trust for help. When I heard their story, I felt like I wanted to tell their story to everyone through the character called Laxmi in this movie. After watching the film audiences will know what I am talking about," the director said.
Cover Image Courtesy: FoxStarHindi