Cast: Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh, Bobby Deol, Kriti Sanon, Kriti Kharbanda, Pooja Hegde, Chunky Panday, Rana Daggubati, Johnny Lever
Director: Farhad Samji
Rating: 1 Star (Out of 5)
It is in the fitness of things that pigeon poo gets generous play in Housefull 4, a reincarnation-themed romp that is as crappy as any Bollywood comedy can get. The only A-lister in the cast of this brazenly brainless film, Akshay Kumar, is at the receiving end of the bird droppings. The first time a pigeon poops on him, he goes "yuck". Not to worry, a character tells him airily, "kabootar yuck" brings "good luck". It doesn't if you are in the audience and are looking for gags that do not insult your intelligence.
The dialogues, written by director Farhad Samji, play out in the same vein all through the outlandish film, reportedly the costliest comedy every made in Mumbai. It is all rhyme and no rhythm. It straddles two periods 600 years apart - 1419 and 2019 - and rests on a spectacularly infantile premise: an entire bunch of people in an ancient kingdom are reborn in the same place and time to take forward three love stories that were cut short by vicious palace intrigue fuelled by an ambitious courtier (Sharad Kelkar) and the fury of an animalistic clan leader Gama (Rana Daggubati) out to avenge his brother's murder.
The past is set in a kingdom named Sitamgarh, the present in London. A concrete wedding canopy collapses on the lovers of yore, killing them all. They are back in each other's orbit all these centuries later but the amorous alignments are not quite the same. The cross-connections are a strenuous, and tenuous, plot device that drives the film post-interval.
In the present day, Harry (Akshay Kumar), who suffers from a severe noise allergy that turns his eyes into marblelike orbs and blanks out his short-term memory, is troubled by nightmares that transport him back to the distant past. When asked what's going on, he can only answer: "I don't know." That is the thing about Housefull 4: nobody seems to know what is up. The film hurtles along like a runaway trundler. Only the very-easy-to-amuse moviegoers will find it funny enough to engage with its crazy, crass convolutions.
Harry runs a London barber shop, Hulk Cuts, with the hunky Max (Bobby Deol). Roy (Riteish Deshmukh), who is prone to mixing up verb-genders when he speaks, completes the trio of mates who think that they can not only demand a chumma whenever and wherever they want, they also have the birthright to make a spectacle of themselves in the bargain unmindful that the women they think they own have minds and hearts of their own and are more than just a pair of lips.
Harry, Max and Roy have lost a huge sum of money kept in their custody on behalf of an underworld don - the calamity is brought on by Harry's forgetfulness. Desperate to find a way out of the grave trouble they are in, the three men woo the daughters of a tycoon - Kriti (Kriti Sanon), Neha (Kriti Kharbanda) and Pooja (Pooja Hegde).
Their gameplan is to inherit the man's wealth and get the mafia don off their backs once for all. The old man (Ranjeet), a brazen womanizer himself, agrees to accept the guys as their sons-in-law although he initially wonders aloud why these men are horsing around with girls half their age. These little niceties are beyond both the dad and the lecherous lads.
A khandaani gola - an atlas globe - is spun and it picks Sitamgarh as the location for a destination wedding. The place is an ancient computer-generated city, where the would-be life partners check into a heritage hotel managed by Winston Churchgate (Johnny Lever), a Mumbai man who has ended up here via London. Memories of the past come rushing back to Harry when he encounters the bellboy, Aakhri Pasta (Chunky Pandey). The latter is fired for being a nuisance. Harry goes looking for Pasta in neighbouring Madhavgarh.
Once there, he figures out who he was in the 15th century - Rajkumar Bala, a tyrannical bald prince whose reign of terror had put him in his father's crosshairs. His plan to assassinate the king (Parikshit Sahni) was thwarted and he was banished from the kingdom. In the company of Pasta, Bala has set off for Sitamgarh, and got there in time for the ruler's (Ranjeet) birthday. He reached the king's court in a noisy, rickety wheel-barrow and gifted him a pouch filled with pigshit.
This film's obsession with animal excreta is monumental. Housefull 4 is like a pig. It wallows in a shit pit that is so deep that it can only hope to sink into it until there is no way out. At the interval point, Harry realizes that neither he nor Max and Roy are marrying the girls they loved in their last incarnations. The film's second half is devoted to his mission to hook up with Kriti, who was Madhu, the girl he loved in 1419. He is now with Pooja, who in her past life was Mala and was in love with Bangdu Maharaj (Deshmukh), reincarnated as Roy. And Neha, who was the invincible bodyguard Dharamputra's (Deol) girl six centuries ago, is on the verge of marrying Roy.
The misunderstandings that the rigmarole causes are neither funny nor logical. A film so thin has never been so confusing. With little to offer by way of truly effective slapstick, Housefull 4 falls back on the usual complement of Bollywood cross-references. With Rana Daggubati in the cast (the actor returns in the second half as pop singer Pappu Rangeela), Baahubali and Bhallaladeva are inevitably evoked. Harry's momentary seizures are accompanied by strains of the opening riff of a song from Padosan - still an unattainable benchmark for Mumbai comedies - and Roy's past persona of a dance guru is named Bangdu.
Bobby Deol's character is not only called Dharamputra and his presence invokes the song "Soldier, soldier meethi baatein bolkar" six centuries before it was composed. And Nawazuddin Siddiqui, in a special appearance, plays ghostbuster Ramsay Baba, who sways to a remix of Bhoot Raja Bahar Aaja (first heard in Dharmendra's 1977 film Chacha Bhatija).
These tricks are too stale and superficial to salvage a sad spectacle designed to take the audience for a ride. Hop on if you wish, but don't say you weren't warned.
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