Housefull 4 Review: The Franchise Gets Bigger but That Doesn’t Make It Better
With 3 films in 6 years it didn’t really become difficult for Housefull to develop into a commercially successful Bollywood comedy franchise, producer Sajid Nadiadwala being smart enough to churn out instalments at the right intervals. Hence with part 4 getting announced sometime last year there was no surprise at all. Certain films and film franchises turn out to be critic/review proof, Housefull franchise definitely being a good example of the same. The critics have never been impressed by any of the films in the franchise so far, hence how different was the scenario going to be this time? Though the film did get stuck for a while due to an actor and the original director being caught up in the #MeToo storm, the makers decided wisely to replace the people concerned and went ahead with the film. At the time of writing this post we’ve already seen the film release for Diwali, start off on a not so impressive note at the box office (thanks to the dull pre-Diwali period) but make rapid strides post the Lakshmi Puja on Diwali.
The film has been clearly marketed as a reincarnation comedy, hence no surprises on that front at all. In the year 1419 in the royal kingdom of Sitamgarh somewhere in North India, 3 couples find themselves falling prey to a victim of a sinister conspiracy, making their dream of living together remain unfulfilled. But a quirk of fate sees all the characters being reincarnated six centuries later. It’s now 2019 in London and the three couples are about to get married, but this time the pairs get mixed up. As per their fate and by the whims and fancy of the screenplay, the action shifts to Sitamgarh once again. How do the characters realize their true love and go on to finish their long pending task is what the film is all about. To begin with its imperative to note that the film has been smartly marketed and the film’s promos do not deceive the audience in any manner, a fact that needs to be acknowledged.
But then Housefull 4 is clearly a film that cannot be taken seriously at all and there are various reasons for the same. To begin with, it’s a blatant spoof the Baahubali franchise, something that director Farhad Samji and producer Sajid Nadiadwala (credited for the story as well) have been clear about, so much so that even the iconic “Jiyo Re Baahubali” song has been spoofed over here. How do you take a film seriously when some of the characters’ slip in English words into their vocabulary even when they are in 1419? How would you take the film seriously when the characters’ casually but purposely mouth their dialogues in the form of Bollywood songs, even laughingly suggesting that the lines sound good enough to be used for a song? Also can someone please tell me as to how can one take a film like this seriously when Rana Daggubati (in his “Pappu Rangeela” avatar) sings qawwali’s in the film, including a version of “Emotional Atyachar” (from Dev D).
In such a situation it is very clear that Farhad Samji and his writers had their task cut out clearly in terms of the writing, the dialogues in particular ensuring that you get to laugh, feel excited and irritated, all at varying points as if on cue. The songs (composed by Sohail Sen and Farhad Samji-Sandeep Shirodkar) have already become popular and they suit the madness quotient evident in the film. For a film that has a reasonably big canvas, the VFX work is actually a bit of a letdown, maybe an overlook of sorts. The film has a huge ensemble cast of which Johnny Lever, Ranjeet and Chunkey Pandey (the only actor apart from Akshay Kumar and Riteish Deshmukh who’s been part of all 4 Housefull films) get noticed among the supporting cast. Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a cameo as “Ramsey” Baba is a hoot, clearly having a blast. Kriti Sanon, Pooja Hegde and Kriti Kharbanda play the standard heroines, not being tested at all in any manner. Bobby Deol as Dharamputra/Max is okay while Riteish Deshmukh is in his element, especially as the period character, Bangdu Maharaj.
While Housefull 4 is a loud film that tries to keep it simple with its objective, keeping the audiences laughing as much as possible, it is possible to achieve that (to an extent) only thanks to the presence of Akshay Kumar. Portraying Rajkumar Bala Dev Singh/Harry in his own characteristic style, he seems to be clearly in good form, looking clearly comfortable with the characters, setting and dialogues. Housefull 4 is silly and irreverent for sure, but it’s a film that does not steer clear of its objective.
Housefull 4 may not be the ideal festival release, but then Farhad Samji and co have gone on to extend the franchise, moving ahead on the journey so far.