Every time a new edition of the Housefull series that started in 2010 goes into production, the filmmakers seem to leave a part of their brain at home when going to work. And that is exactly what they expect the audience to do too when they come to the cinema halls. What more, with Housefull 4 grossing almost NRs 3.2 billion worldwide in under two weeks of its release, the audience seems to be fully complying.
So the latest edition of the Housefull franchise with its old mascots Akshay Kumar and Riteish Deshmukh has once again minted much moola. But, for a critical viewer, this has to be the most senseless movie not only in the franchise but in the whole industry in recent times. Housefull 4 is a disaster in terms of intelligence, creativity and sensibility, but looks like the Bollywood as well as Nepali audiences don’t mind much. The movie theaters of Katmandu are still packed, booting out this past weekend’s Nepali release ‘Badhsha Jutt’ in under a week.
Along with repeat offenders Kumar as Rajkumar Bala Dev Singh/Harry, and Deshmukh as Bangdu Maharaj/Roy, the filmmakers have roped in Bobby Deol as Dharamputra/Max as the essential third wheel which is signature to the Housefull franchise. As “eye-candies”, Housefull has Kriti Sanon as Rajkumari Madhu/Kriti, Pooja Hegde as Rajkumari Mala/Pooja and Kriti Kharbanda as Rajkumari Meena/Neha. (Housefull has always been about the pleasure of perversity and there’s nothing significant in any of its women characters.) These women show a little more skin than necessary, act painfully dumb, and are made to romance men double their age.
The story of Housefull 4 is based on reincarnation and we’re shown two different timelines (1419 and 2019) with all the major and even supporting characters getting reincarnated. The film moves back and forth between the timelines for a while and sticks to the present for a senseless climax that is so clichéd, it could have been straight from an 80’s Bollywood disaster.
But the climax is not the only cliché. The movie also spoofs past Bollywood films and recreates stereotypical Bollywood scenes to gimmick them. The dialogues, as coarse as they are, use lyrics from popular Bollywood songs to muster humor but nonetheless fails miserably in this over-used formula.
Even if Housefull 4 is meant to be a parody of Bollywood, it surpasses all logic in storytelling and the comedy is crass and disrespects the women as well as the LGBTQI+ community. The Housefull franchise always puts skimpily-clad women in machoistic men’s laps. This edition takes the insult to a whole new level by poking tasteless fun at the LGBTQI+ people. How long will we laugh at cross-dressing men and their stereotypical antics?
The pervasive lack of logic, repetitions and prejudice makes the movie difficult to watch. So much so that you lose all respect you gained for Kumar from his previous films like ‘Padman’, ‘Toilet’, ‘Gold’ and ‘Mission Mangal’. Kumar looks too old for this terrible slapstick. But it must be the power of mainstream Bollywood that Kumar is belting out one after another forgettable performance in back to back Housefull films. Even accomplished actresses like Sanon and Kharbanda who have stuck to their guns in independent and low-budget cinema have agreed to be reduced to naval and cleavage displays in this one.
Houseful 4 is sexist, racist, unintelligent and problematic in terms of what it chooses to make jokes of. The excellent cinematography, editing and set design make the film a little bearable. But again, 2h 26m for such a loud comedy is no fun.
Who should watch it?
Housefull 4 is an offensive vaudeville which challenges the audience’s intelligence. But perhaps all of us at times want to watch something so senseless that we cannot but marvel at our own intelligence, right?
Rating: 1 Star
Actors: Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh, Bobby Deol
Director: Farhad Samji
Run time: 2h 26m