MUMBAI — The normal viewer’s food has generally been the critic’s poison. At no time in the recent past, when a different dimension of cinema has been coming in that pleased both, was the contrast so glaring as with this film.
Expectations from this film have been so illogical that the film’s illogic pales in comparison!
The brand is clear: goofy comedy, often slapstick, madness galore and tributes in multiples to cinema. In the 15th century (1419) for example, we have a man who is named Aakhri Pasta (Chunky Panday), who says “Mama Mia!, and offers sauce and another character who spouts lyrics of hit classics that evoke a response from his girlfriend that these words are so lovely should be woven into music!
The irreverence is calculated and considerable: three pigeons are called Neil, Nitin and Mukesh; a song has the words Alia Bhatt and later Mahesh Bhatt; foreign dancers abound in 15th century rural India; a young woman (Jamie Lever) is reborn as an English-spouting man named Winston Churchgate (Johny Lever); a barber in London kisses the queen, who also sings Hindi songs, and there is a Prince Charles shown as well.
Tributes to Hindi cinema from various eras suffuse the film, and we have the basic premise of 11 people and three pigeons reborn after 600 years for a purpose! The multitude of writers, however, cannot fit in the rebirth of the king who sires the three daughters he again gets in this birth, reason unknown! As we said, illogic reigns!
Clearly meant for unmitigated madness in the name of entertainment, “Housefull 4” emerges as the second-best in the franchise after “Housefull 2,” which was a Wodehouse-ian plot mixed with Sajid Khan’s brand of no-holds-barred comedy. Sadly after this, the filmmaker went woefully wrong in two films. Inside reports suggest that “Housefull 4” has been considerably done by Khan before his exit due to the #MeToo imbroglio, and the level and quality of madness here suggest that the substitute director (who had directed “Housefull 3” and another tepid entertainer) has not contributed much.
The film has faced a barrage of attack from the critics, but that is no surprise.
Akshay Kumar, back to comedy after eons, fits into both his roles (Bala the tyrant in the 14th century and a London barber now) and shows his increasing command on versatility. He is the backbone of the film.
The plot is almost a one-liner: Three pairs of lovers are separated by evil forces in the 14th century. When they are re-born 600 years later, they are in love with the wrong partner, and Providence takes a hand in uniting the correct pairs, by allowing five more people and three more birds to be reborn as well to help them!
The dialogues are often hilarious, and though the second half could have been edited by at least 10 to 15 minutes, the script manages to have its own logic within the illogic — which is crucial. The music works for the film, and the lyrics are witty. Julius Packiam, yet again, does an extraordinary job with the rich background score. Technically, the film is top-class.
Among the actors, special marks go to Riteish Deshmukh, Kriti Sanon, Ranjeet and the 21st century Johny Lever. The rest do the needful. Just like the film for the audience that needs pure entertainment that once in a while.
Produced by: Sajid Nadiadwala, Warda Nadiadwala & Firuzi Khan
Directed by: Farhad Samji
Written by: Sajid Nadiadwala, Farhad Samji, Aakash Kaushik, Madhur Sharma, Tushar Hiranandani, Sparsh Khetarpal, Tasha Bhambra & Sara Bodinar
Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Tony Montana, Sohail Sen, Farhad Samji & Sandeep Shirodkar
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Bobby Deol, Riteish Deshmukh, Kriti Sanon, Kriti Kharbanda, Pooja Hegde, Rana Dagubatti, Ranjeet, Chunky Panday, Manoj Pahwa, Parikshat Sahni, Sharad Kelkar. Johny Lever, Jamie Lever, Sp. App.:Nawazuddin Siddiqui & others