The trailer for Akshay Kumar and Kiara Advani’s Laxmmi Bomb is finally out, and in all honesty, throughout its three minutes, I was consistently facepalmed. Premiering on Disney Hotstar on November 9, this horror-comedy, directed by Raghava Lawrence, follows the life of a family dealing with a ghost problem that inevitably leads to chaos and humourous antics. But this humour, unfortunately, comes at the cost of exploiting a long list of stereotypes, predominantly against women and the transgender community.
Reminiscent of the Bhool Bhulaiyaa school of ghostbusting, Kumar once again can be seen stepping up to the occasion of dealing with spirits when one takes over the home of his in-laws. Things take a strange course when Kumar’s character Asif, who from the word go says he doesn’t believe in ghosts, begins acting “strange”, as if possessed by someone. His mannerisms take on feminine traits, obviously unsettling the family, until it finally culminates in Asif transforming completely into a transwoman. The ghost of the transwoman possessing him is out to get revenge.
Laxmmi Bomb Trailer Reeks of Misogyny
The opening lines of a trailer are, “jis din mere saamne bhoot aya nah, main chudiyan pehen lunga” (The day I’m confronted by a ghost, I’ll wear bangles). It’s disappointing and enraging to see Hindi films harbouring dialogues derogatory to women even in 2020. The “haath mei chudiyan pehenna” metaphor has been a longstanding defender of not just misogyny against women, but also toxic masculinity.
How is it okay for films to still propagate the idea that men are willing to give up their manhood (at the expense of trampling on women, mind you) if they have to go back on their word? How will wearing bangles even emasculate a man?
Sexism Or Gender Upliftment?
Laxmmi Bomb attempts to tell audiences that it is in fact trying to undo all the stereotypes held against women (and transwomen) through Asif. He unabashedly wears a saree, make-up, walks with hip swings, talks in female pronouns, and even goes the mile to wear bangles (as if saying: Hey, wearing bangles doesn’t emasculate anyone; I was propagating a dumb stereotype before. Don’t listen to old me, listen to new me.)
But in his bid to “live life, queen size”, all Asif does it further prejudices that women are trying hard to combat today. There’s more sexism than gender upliftment: in the way he walks, talks, looks, and just generally is. In trying to display the prototype of the independent, strong-willed (trans)woman, the film counterproductively makes a mockery out of it with an exaggerated character.
Stereotyping of Women isn’t Empowerment
The film doesn’t seem to be women-friendly. Because who comes out looking like a hero after all the messages of empowerment and inclusivity? A man.
The other women in the film, from Advani to the brilliant Ashwini Kalsekar and Ayesha Raza, are meanwhile left cowering behind chairs and in corners, trembling with fear at the ghost that’s come to haunt them. Advani at one point is even shown to be crying at her “pati ki harkatein” when he’s literally only just applying a face mask. Since when did skincare become a cause for embarrassment?
Aside from that too, Laxmmi Bomb‘s humour seriously misses the mark. It is offensively slapstick and of the brand that may have been wildly favourable during the 1990s, but not anymore. And yes a large number of viewers will live-stream Laxxmi Bomb during the Diwali weekend. What does that say about us the audience?
Watch the official trailer here:
Image Credit: Twitter
Views expressed are the author’s own.