It borrows bits from the bard, and badly, but Housefull 2 is fully silly, says Kamakshi Chakravarti
IN THE tradition of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors comes the second installment of the Housefull films, modelled after the name rather than the work. This time we have an ensemble cast of 12. If you’re trying to remember who the prequel left out from Bollywood, don’t bother — the Khans still don’t make an appearance, but the highly bankable Akshay Kumar does.
The story revolves around Shreyas Talpade, as the wronged son, on the war-path to avenge his father’s honour. Yes, people are still fighting about stuff like that, and what is even more tiresome is that they are still making films about it.
Fortunately, the alligators, snakes, desert islands and devastatingly handsome charlatans thrown in just about salvage the rehashed plot. Unfortunately, this is where originality comes to die — Sajid Khan still looks to the bard for his tropes: begin with the old feuding families of Romeo and Juliet, throw some Lady Macbeth-like mothers, layer on Comedy of Errors with two brides and two boys, Twelfth Night with false identities, and you have Bollywood’s version of Shakespearean drama.
Alligators, snakes, desert islands and devilishly handsome charlatans just about salvage the rehashed plot, but this is also where originality comes to die
The good news — the pacing is quick, there is never a dull moment and there is tons of juvenile wordplay, if you enjoy that kind of thing. Sample this: Akshay Kumar parachutes down to his future in-laws’ house. The parachute covers him and his mother-in-law to be. When the two manage to extricate themselves, he says with trademark Akshay Kumar panache: “Aasman se giray, Khajuraho me atkay”. Cringe-worthy otherwise, but funny if you give yourself over entirely to the film. It’s all about suspending disbelief and intelligence simultaneously. But our Desi boy is sexy and shows off some serious martial arts skills in a fight with John Abraham, who flexes those biceps to die for. It will almost convince you that Bollywood objectifies leading actors and actresses in equal measure. The women are impossibly beautiful, to justify why the men fall head over heels in love with them within seconds of their meeting. It is when the entire cast gathers under one roof that the film begins to live up to its title — there are assignations, indignation and finally resignation. We might have seen the entire range of Johnny Lever’s expressions by now, but he continues to amuse as the confused but suspicious butler.
While there is plenty of eye-candy, the dances are lacklustre. With many leads to synchronise, you have to choreograph for the worst of the lot. And their clunky gyrations let Malaika Arora cross over from a mere item that breaks the monotony to a siren that raises the temperature and tempo of the film.
The concern with any large ensemble cast is that a talented actor can be wasted on an insignificant role, which is the sad tale of Boman Irani. His appearance is splendid, but too fleeting. The constant bickering amongst the characters gets tiresome, the dialogues are not particularly witty and rely too heavily on cursing to provide levity. Why didn’t Khan just watch the hysterically funny spats of Utpal Dutt and Amol Palekar for inspiration? Unlike Akshay Kumar, Talpade disappoints with a tepid performance and Jacqueline Fernandez manages to stay in a huff the whole time. This film might fuel rumours that Rishi Kapoor is going bald, since he refuses to take his bowler hat off through the length of the film, but perhaps this is yet another Bollywood cross-family reference to his father’s role in Mera Naam Joker.
If you haven’t had your fill of slapstick humour and poor puns, head to Housefull 2. Or stay at your own house, since it is probably going to run house full.