Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

April 30, 2010

House arrest!

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 11:07 pm

April 30, 2010

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Deepika Padukone, Ritesh Deshmukh, Arjun Rampal

Director: Sajid Khan

In the climax of director Sajid Khan’s ‘Housefull’, a cylinder of laughing gas is accidentally released during a state function at Buckingham Palace.┬áHundreds of gathered guests break into unstoppable laughter, and even the famously stiff-lipped Queen cracks a smile. Ironically, by now your own laughter has long since dried up.

‘Housefull’ is the kind of pedestrian comedy that makes ‘Singh Is King’ feel like a Woody Allen gem. It’s the kind of film that will stop at nothing to get a laugh out of you. So a monkey is slapped and punched, a black baby becomes the butt of a racist joke, and the words “homo” and “gay” are used liberally as a form of insult.

The humor here is strictly low-brow and the gags mostly slapstick. It doesn’t help that the director plagiarizes many of his jokes directly from popular American comedies like ‘Night at the Museum’ and ‘Meet The Parents’, and even whacks an old gag involving a vacuum cleaner gone beserk from the “Mr Bean” TV series.

The premise itself is a flimsy one centered on a perennially unlucky fellow played by Akshay Kumar, and his misadventures during his search for the perfect bride. In the tradition of similarly dimwitted comedies like “Welcome” and “Golmaal Returns”, the screenplay banks on instances of mistaken identities and misunderstandings to take the narrative forward.

Ritesh Deshmukh who stars as Akshay’s best friend, is passed off by his wife Lara Dutta as the family cook when her father suddenly shows up unannounced. And Deepika Padukone, who stars as Akshay’s girlfriend, must present Lara Dutta as his sister, when Deepika’s brother Arjun Rampal decides to pay a visit.

This merry-go-round of madness is neither imaginative nor original, and when the director can’t think of any other direction to go with his scenes, he gets his characters to stand in a circle and slap each other repeatedly.

Some genuine laughs are provided by peripheral characters like Chunky Pandey who plays a half-Italian hotel owner named Aakhri Pasta, and Boman Irani who appears as Lara Dutta’s farsan-baron father who makes the trip from Gujarat to London to see his estranged daughter.

Of the leads, Akshay Kumar has a few moments of convincing straight-faced humor, but he does nothing new that you haven’t seen him do before. The ladies aren’t expected to do much more than look comfortable in skimpy beachwear, and Ritesh Deshmukh and Arjun Rampal make for reasonably engaging background distractions.

In all fairness, some jokes do make you laugh but those are few and far between. For the most part ‘Housefull’ makes you cringe in embarrassment and disgust for what passes off as ‘entertainment’ and ‘cinema’ these days. Bereft of craft and style, and lacking in even simple storytelling, the film is a test of your endurance.

I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five for director Sajid Khan’s ‘Housefull’. If corny humor is your thing, give this film a chance. If you have even a modicum of intelligence or taste, however, stay far away from this one!

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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