So, the cinema halls are all set to throw open their doors from October 5. We wonder if it would change things for Akshay Kumar-starrer Laxmmi Bomb that is all set for an OTT release on Disney+ Hotstar as well as a theatrical release in countries like Australia, New Zealand, and UAE. However, none of that matters for us as we really think that the film is nothing but a colossal failure even before watching it. And before you dismiss that thought, let's tell you that our reasons are solid enough.
So here's a question that we would like to ask you: Would you be okay with it if Akshay Kumar was offered a woman’s role in a film like Queen? No, right? That's exactly the matter of contention here. Laxmmi Bomb makers might have written a fabulous script, must have managed an even better screenplay and direction, however, they have undone all of that by miserably failing in the casting department. The film will always be a huge failure simply for the fact that a man plays the role of a trans woman in it!
And before you contest that opinion, here's why we think that Akshay Kumar, a cis actor should have never been signed for the role of a transwoman:
This is high time Indian filmmakers realise that every time they cast a man or a woman in a trans role it essentially invalidates the trans existence and identity. But it gets a little more complicated in the case of Laxmmi Bomb, giving space to the filmmakers to make excuses that might sound good enough but aren't really. The central character is told at the very beginning of the film's trailer, “Aaj se tera naam Laxman Nahi Laxmi hoga.”
The filmmakers might give an argument somewhat on the lines that it is okay since the man “actually” becomes a woman, it fits right to cast accordingly. Well, the truth is that for the majority of the screen time in this film, Akshay plays a trans woman and by casting a man for the role, we are suggesting that a transwoman is actually a man. This holds true for all the trans characters. Thus, even if the filmmakers are trying to humanise trans folks or just projecting that, the effort is actually falling short. It fails because it propagates the same stereotypes that have been used by transphobes to question the trans identity.
So let’s first get the facts right: As long as there exist even fields and opportunities for everyone, it hardly matters who plays what. However, the idea of equal opportunities remains as far from reality as it could be in India and anywhere else in the world for that matter.
We do believe that good actors can fit into any mold and play any roles. However, here’s the question: how many trans individuals have you seen playing cis roles in films? We are literally talking about a country that has been harassing Karan Johar for decades now by calling him names like chakka, Hijra. Thus, before we try normalising a cis actor playing a trans role, we'd have to normalise the opposite. We need to make it possible for trans actors to find a way into the industry, we need to make it possible for them to grab good roles, we need to make it possible for them to be considered for cis roles as much as cis actors are considered for trans roles. Before all of this can actually become a reality, a cis actor should not play a trans role!
If you talk about the Indian cinema, the trans identity has always been used as stock characters that too in no more than two shades. They are either used to elicit fear like Ashutosh Rana as the child abducting trans woman in Sangarsh. Or they are used for the purposes of humour (their trans identity and body always being the butt of humour) like Rakhi Swant in Masti.
The stereotypes are horrific. We are constantly taught to either brush off the trans identity as a joke or to be really, really scared of it. Also, don’t even get us started on how trans folks are often confused with intersex people in movies and how transmen have had almost zero representation (even through cis actors) to date.
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 the need of the hour. 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!
Featured Image: Instagram