Movies

‘Housefull 4’ review: This Akshay Kumar multi-starrer is no laughing matter

A still from ‘Housefull 4’

A still from ‘Housefull 4’  

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Sexist, racist humour and crass jokes targeted at the queer community are what makes this house alarmingly full

At times you go in for the first day first show of a film with zero expectations, merely a curiosity as to what lower depths it could plumb in the name of entertainment. Housefull 4 hurtles south with such a clarity of purpose and desperate urgency that you can review it with just “eye roll” gifs than go hunting for suitable words.

The “reincarnation comedy”, as it calls itself, has three couples in present-day London, go back 600 years to 1419 Sitamgarh, somewhere in India, only to realise they are wrongly matched in the present. The alignments are, thankfully, reordered and set right before the saat pheras, lest the bhabhi from the previous birth becomes the biwi in the present and vice versa. Ha ha ha; the bhabhi-baby-biwi play is meant to be a cue for laughter and I ain’t joking. Five people have been credited for this story and screenplay, an evidence of the adage that too many cooks indeed do spoil the broth.

Not that there can be much to spoil in a broth where one is expected to laugh at bird’s droppings, people eating pig’s potty, dialogues like “Aaj mera fast hai, isliye slow maarta hoon” and three pigeons called Neill, Nitin and Mukesh (ok this was the only funny bit). Just a week or two ahead of two Hindi movies centred on hairloss — Ujda Chaman and Bala —Housefull 4 is another one that features a takla (bald) track and a character called Bala.

Housefull 4
  • Director: Farhad Samji
  • Starring: Akshay Kumar, Bobby Deol, Riteish Deshmukh, Kriti Sanon, Pooja Hegde, Kriti Kharbanda, Rana Daggubati, Johnny Lever, Ranjeet, Chunky Pandey
  • Run time: 145 minutes
  • Storyline: What’s that?

All the actors go through their motions mechanically. The’ salt n peppa’ look sits well on Akshay Kumar but he promptly goes clean shaven after one scene or two. Pray why? Ranjeet reprises his leery, creepy villainous past in Hindi cinema, with three arm candies as accompaniment in every frame. Johnny Lever and Chunkey Pandey ham away to the max, as though it was their last role and film. I am still wondering what made Rana Daggubati say yes to the role of an uncivilised brute that comes with terrible racist overtones. And long after the film is over I still can’t differentiate between the three heroines; they all are indistinguishable, replaceable pretty dolls, nothing more.

The original director of the film, Sajid Khan, may have been replaced following the #MeToo allegations but the sexist humour continues to thrive under the baton of Farhad Samji. There are double entendres galore and women reduced to commodities for male consumption. Worse are the crass jokes directed at the queer community. Sample: an effeminate guy is referred to as the one “jisne gender ka tender nahin bhara”. What’s most troubling, however, is that you could be the only sadu (grumpy), traumatised aunty in the multiplex desperate to make a dash towards the exit at the end the film, while the rest of the audience could well be having a jolly good time. Your feeling of being held hostage could well be another’s volitional captivity.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 5:37:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/housefull-4-review-this-akshay-kumar-multi-starrer-is-no-laughing-matter/article29796867.ece

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