Starring: Akshay Kumar, Deepika Padukone, Lara Dutta, Riteish Deshmukh, Jiah Khan, Boman Irani
Stars : **
For a film where the hero supposedly gets married to three different women, Housefull is strangely limp, completely lacking in vigour. The comic punches are few and far in between and even many of these are direct lifts from one film or the other. There's a bit from The Heartbreak Kid and Meet The Parents. Almost the entire drama that ensues in the second half is a copy of the Rajesh Khanna-Nanda 1972 starrer, Joru Ka Ghulam. Not only that, the writers (Sajid Khan, Milap Zaveri, Vibha Singh) are at such a loss for original comic ideas that they've repeated the entire Kanta ben joke from Kal Ho Naa Ho as it is.
Director Sajid Khan seems to think that by using the 'homage' excuse, he doesn't need to work on the writing, which stays tepid almost for its entire running time. Arush (Akshay Kumar) is an unlucky man, who spells trouble for whoever he comes in contact with. Depressed and alone, he joins his friend, Bob (Riteish Deshmukh) and his wife, Hetal (Lara Dutta) in London for a few days. The couple get Akshay married to their boss' (Randhir Kapoor) daughter, Devika (Jiah Khan). Just as Arush thinks his luck is about to change, Devika confesses that she got married to him only to placate her dad and does in fact have a boyfriend. Arush finds love again with Deepika, but has to deal with her tough, hard-to-please brother (Arjun Rampal). On the other hand, Hetal, in order to pacify her angry father (Boman Irani), lies to him about her husband's financial status. She even tells him they have a child. Now, all the characters have to assume different roles to escape being caught.
The first half can be called amiable time-pass. There are some scenes that induce a slight chuckle – like where Akshay uses the vacuum cleaner on a high mode and everything in the house, including the parrot gets sucked into it - but even this scene goes on and on and becomes ludicrous by the end of it. Chunky Pandey, as theItalian hotelier is funny. Another scene where Boman is shocked to see that his daughter has an African child (because that is the only baby they can find in quick time) is amusing. But that's about it. The film has very few comic punches and Sajid and the writers fail to infuse the story with much energy or freshness. They rely on the same old gay jokes and gags, and it's only when a song comes on (all are entertaining numbers) does the film get some life.
Housefull's drama and plot points are all manufactured. Every confusion in the film is either a result of some silly coincidence or because the characters insist on behaving like total fools. For example, why does Hetal allow Arush to be misunderstood as her husband by her father and the land-lady? In Joru Ka Ghulam, Nanda gets someone else to play her husband in front of her dad because her own hubby, Rajesh Khanna has fought and left her. So when Khanna returns to her, he has no option but to don some other role. That is what situational drama is about. It needs to have a semblance of logic.
Things are still tolerable until the last 30 minutes of the film. But with Arjun Rampal's entry and the final laughing gas sequence, the film became distasteful and loses whatever little good-will it earns through the rest of the film.
Sajid Khan should be thanked for not making a crass, sexist film out of a subject such as this. But that's just a small consolation. Khan does not show any special spark with his direction and the writing especially is a no go. He tries hard to make a paisa vasool dramedy, but with a lack-lustre script and tepid characterisation, the film never really gathers steam. In fact, the use of a masala gem like Apni Toh Jaise Taise amid such poor drama is criminal.
One of the reasons why the film is so plodding is partly due to Akshay Kumar's character. For a lead actor, his is a dull, listless role. Lara Dutta and Riteish have ill-defined characters and their hamming doesn't help. And after all this, in a self-congratulatory mode, Sajid Khan has inserted a clap track at the end - as if applauding his own effort.
Housefull is an average film, that just doesn't pack in enough. Watch it if you must.