My favorite movie ever? Hera Pheri. It's a go-to classic comedy that has me in splits every time. Nothing about it is inherently out of the box funny, it's just a slapstick comedy but it's fun nonetheless - and Akshay Kumar should just stick to that.
This isn't an Akshay Kumar hate piece - at least not to my knowledge - but it gets close because frankly, he's just calling it on to himself. Before you come for me, let me just clarify what's up okay?
So, Akshay Kumar recently released a picture of himself cross-dressed, on his Instagram. All good and normal for Bollywood and India in general honestly, but it turns out the role he's playing in his new film "Laxmmi Bomb" is the role of a transgender woman. So basically, Bollywood took the transgender plot to exploit the benefits but still chose a man over an actual transgender person.
Okay I know, there is no transgender actor at par with Akshay Kumar in Bollywood, how will it work? The movie has to sell, you don't know anything about the business! I get it. And it's a valid point, sure - there isn't a commercial trans actor who can play the role - but they do have some trans writer, editor, maybe even creative director, right? Nope.
That's what's wrong with the whole deal - this movie about a trans person doesn't have a single listed trans person on the crew. That's a shame. A cis man playing a trans woman, advocating for trans rights.
This movie is a remake of the South Indian movie titled "Kanchana" and here's the plot for that from it's Wikipedia page - " The film revolves around Raghava, who is scared to venture outside gets possessed by a ghost and starts behaving weirdly. The ghost turns out to be a transgender woman who wants to take revenge on an MLA who murdered her and her family for land-grabbing."
So basically it's the same old transphobic narrative - the transgender person in the movie is just plain evil, and the rest of the town thinks it's weird that a "man would behave like a woman." The movie basically has very little to offer when it comes to inclusivity, so maybe they could've strived for diversity? But no, Akshay Kumar is the Scarlet Johansson of India so he lands the role.
And what's worse is that he will get the awards, the congrats and the applause for making a movie that "breaks stereotypes." The truth being that it only reinforces the same old rugged stereotypes as punchlines.
While the movie creates buzz for being "new" and "trans empowered" and "helping social causes", there are actual trans people out there dealing with the transphobia first hand and being ridiculed. The tokenism just seeps through every corner and ignoring it is just blatantly participating in the false narrative.
Akshay Kumar has also been cast in Mission Mangal a women-centric movie that has a male lead. Ironic. Even the poster has Akshay Kumar right in the middle with tiny little women around him. Mission Mangal was supposed to be a movie about the women scientists that enabled us to have more access to Mars - and who steals the limelight? Akshay Kumar.
More than anything else, it's just tiring to see the lack of representation and the underwhelming responses to the media very explicitly phasing out diversity and representation. So I don't have anything against Akshay Kumar - he's really got a conversation going about some real issues, but it wouldn't hurt for him to do roles that don't overshine the actual purpose of the movie.