The Indian film industry has truly taken a hit after Sushant Singh Rajput's tragic death and the nepotism debate that has followed. For a country that used to worship its movie stars, we have indeed taken a solid 180-degree turn and the same actors that used to get millions of likes on their films' YouTube trailers are being booed down on the platform.
In the past two months or so, the general trend has been that of crazy YouTube dislikes that have easily started trumping the likes. This is quite an anomaly considering how the Indian audience used to react to these movie trailers before. Back in August, Alia Bhatt's Sadak 2 trailer became the ‘most disliked’ video on YouTube within 24 hours of its release. Not too long after that, Ananya Panday starer Khaali Peeli met a similar fate. Now, Akshay Kumar starer Laxmmi Bomb is the latest to face the internet's ire.
As per media reports, YouTube's Like and Dislike numbers were turned off for the film's trailer after it started garnering negative reactions owing to a number of reasons. Apparently, the Indian audience is miffed with Akshay's comments on the ongoing Bollywood drug row. Last week, the actor had taken to Twitter and posted a video talking about the unjust treatment being meted to the film industry and how not all of Bollywood happens to be involved in drug abuse and thus shouldn't be treated that way. However, his statement was quickly dismissed by the netizens who called Akshay's statement a cunning tactic to make his film work.
That said, the film is also receiving flak for casting Akshay, a cis-man, for the role of a transwoman in the film. Prominent LGBTQA+ and gender activists have raised their voices against the same. The root of contention here is the fact that when we don't cast trans folks for cis roles and then we shouldn't do otherwise as well. This actually is also the reason why we can't make peace with the film. The need of the hour is for the Indian filmmakers to realise that every time they cast a man or a woman in a trans role it essentially invalidates the trans existence and identity.
Trans history is a history wrought with struggles, discrimination, and violence. We aren’t dissing Laxmmi Bomb just for the sake of doing so. It is 2020 and we can’t let cis actors pass as trans individuals in films until trans actors are given equally good opportunities to play cis roles. If they are good enough to be the central characters of a great story then trans folks are also good enough to play these roles!
Also, to disable the Like and Dislike numbers sounds like an uber manipulative move tbh! Disabling comments to ward off trolls is a different thing. However, to restrict the viewers from even finding out the reactions to the trailer is just taking it a bit too far. Nepotism or not, drugs or not, the truth is that of late Bollywood seems to have gotten a bit too comfortable in its own conceit.
In Laxxmi Bomb's case, it looks like a desperate attempt to render the audience powerless. However, this makes us wonder how much of a fool do the makers really take us to be? First, you cast a cis man as trans and then hate it when we call you out for it? Well, they certainly cannot have it both ways and they have very comfortably forgotten that the same audience that has been rendered powerless right now would also decide its fate by choosing to watch (or not watch) their film!
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