Housefull 4 Movie Review: Akshay Kumar steals the show in this problematic comedy of errors
Housefull 4 is a worthy addition to the franchise known for its slapstick humour and below-the-belt jokes. Of what worth this franchise is in the first place is a different question altogether.
Is there a point expecting logic, sincerity, and political correctness from the Housefull franchise? Haven't we learnt anything over the past nine years and three films? The latest instalment sticks to the Housefull template of mounting a comedy of errors on a flimsy premise, which is held together by a series of unending gags, irreverent humour, which more than just borders on the offensive, and Akshay Kumar.
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh, Kriti Sanon, Pooja Hegde
Director: Farhad Samji
After a series of nationalistic movies that saw Akshay champion various causes, he returns to a film that has him getting slapped around, kicked in the nether regions, and even unabashedly rolling in shit, literally. If this latter is courtesy a group of pigs in 1419, it is pigeons who do the needful in 2019. The film is about three brothers Akshay, Bobby Deol, and Riteish Deshmukh, who are in love with Pooja Hegde, Kriti Sanon, and Kriti Kharbanda, respectively... or are they? Basically this film is what will happen if SS Rajamouli made Magadheera within the Housefull franchise. Just like Magadheera, Housefull 4 also uses reincarnation and 'sachcha pyaar' to sell us an outlandish story, which begins in London, and for the most part, happens in the princely state of Sitamgarh.
What's Housefull without running gags? There is one involving Riteish Deshmukh, his effeminate characteristics, an unnecessary speech conundrum, and of course, homophobic humour. Then there is an English-speaking Johnny Lever, who later becomes Giggly, the Sitamgarh girlfriend of Akri Pasta (can there be a Housefull franchise without Chunkey Pandey going 'Mamma Mia'), and of course, transphobic humour. There's yesteryear actor Ranjith, and of course, sexual innuendos aplenty. The heroines hardly get to say anything except an exasperated "Shut Up" here and a "Yeh kya ho raha hai?" there, and of course, zero character development. There is the random breaking of fourth wall, misplaced pop culture references in the 14th century, and of course, Dharmendra being referenced while talking about Bobby Deol. But again, what do you expect out of a franchise which perennially aims at the low-hanging fruit? Housefull 4 is a worthy addition to the franchise known for its slapstick humour and below-the-belt jokes. Of what worth this franchise is in the first place is a different question altogether.
Despite a number of cringe-worthy dialogues in the name of humour appearing intermittently in the movie, the one factor that remains consistently sincere and funny is Akshay Kumar. While I am not a big fan of Sundi/Sandy from the previous instalment, both the roles in Housefull 4 give enough for the actor to ply his wares, and he does so with considerable elan. As Harry in the 2019 timeline, Akshay plays a man who forgets things when he hears loud noises, a "London ka Ghajini", and he shoulders the responsibility of the film, almost singlehandedly in the second half.
However, the real show-stealer is Akshay as Rajkumar Bala Dev of Madhavgarh. The actor lets his hair down in the role of a scheming bald prince, whose characterisation is very reminiscent of General Aladeen from The Dictator. Remember the Akshay from films such as Singh is King and Rowdy Rathore? He is back in familiar territory after a prolonged break where he tried to save a lot of things, including the Indian legal system, Indian women, and even the Indian space research.
In between all this, there is Rana Daggubati, whose inclusion also brings in the mandatory Baahubali references. Look out for his present-day avatar, where Rana has the most unlikely profession. Such is the randomness of his profession that the only thing more random than that is the presence of Nawazuddin Siddiqui grooving to an item number along with the entire cast of Housefull 4. Such moments of ingenuity and wackiness manage to balance, albeit temporarily, the outrage the film induces otherwise.
Writing credits of the film are shared by six people, and it really does feel like a classic case of too many cooks spoiling the biriyani. However, the actors, including Riteish and Johnny, ably support Akshay in his endeavour to solve all the confusion by incessant hamming, as does the over-the-top staging.
Some might argue that the presence of this franchise is a farce and not the best thing to have happened to Bollywood. Others believe there is a huge market for such mindless entertainers. Some others are of the opinion that comedy is a subjective thing. To be honest, I related to all these opinions at various points of Housefull 4. Are certain dialogues abysmal? Yes. Is the presence of Sajid Khan's name in the credits disheartening? Yes. Did I laugh out loud when they break into Soldier Soldier song in 1491? You bet I did! Did I give a half-smile when they decided to rhyme "Exorcism" with... Sonu Nigam? Definitely. So, that brings me to the most important question that came up after watching Housefull 4. Do we need a Housefull 5? Well, as Akshay repeatedly says in this film... I don't know.