To expect an intelligent, witty comedy from Sajid Khan is to expect a snowstorm in Mumbai. Never known for cerebral humour, Sajid goes all guns blazing with cheap slapstick in his latest comedy Housefull which boasts of a stellar starcast not excluding a bunch of shapely babes in skimpy bikinis, a tiger, a monkey, and of course Akshay Kumar playing a luckless, lazy loser trying to change his luck by finding true love.
The movie, set in London and Italy, is a purported comedy of errors about mistaken identities among characters given to slapping each other much too often. In one scene Boman Irani slaps Ritesh Deshmukh, who slaps Akshay, who completes the circle by slapping Boman. In another, the slap-duel is between apna Akshay and an Italian monkey. And for every slap that Akki whacks on the simian, he gets an equally powerful one back. If that’s the brand of humour that leaves you doubled up in guffaws, here’s more. In the climax scene, laughing gas is leaked inside the Buckingham Palace and every one of the actors in the stellar cast (excluding the monkey) can’t cease to laugh. Nitrous oxide ain’t truth serum but for some funny reason Akki reveals all about his different wives to everyone.
Yes, it’s all about wives, real or fake. Lara Dutta has to pretend to be the wife of Akshay to keep a lie from getting revealed to her parsi dad Boman Irani. Ritesh Deshmukh, who is Akshay’s friend and Lara’s real hubby, is reduced as her brother. Deepika Padukone whom Akshay loves has an authoritarian brother Arjun Rampal who can’t stand lies. Together the two couple Akshay-Deepika and Ritesh-Lara weave a web of lies from which there’s no escaping when Boman and Arjun come under the same roof with them. Akshay’s wife number three is played by Jiah Khan, a conservative girl who believes in falling in love ‘only after marriage’ provided her marriage lasts that long.
Confusion reigns supreme as director Sajid Khan twists and turns the plot between these characters and adds some crackpots like a half-Italian hotelier named Aakhri Pasta (Chunky Pandey) and an oversexed widow (Lilette Dubey) on the sidelines. Try finding sense in the plot and you’ll end up losing your common sense. But to give credit where it’s due, there are indeed a few genuinely funny moments in Housefull, particularly the ones featuring the ever dependable Akshay Kumar and Ritesh Deshmukh. Akshay’s sequence with the vacuum cleaner at the start may not be clever, but it’s funny. Keeping a straight face and uptight gait, Akshay keeps the fun going even when the script and the plot gets too dumb to be humourous. Arjun is serious for the most part, while Deepika hams like there’s no tomorrow. Lara Dutta hasn’t been used to her potential and Jiah Khan just reduced to a pretty face.
Sajid Khan borrows generously from a number of Hollywood comedies and also adds a smattering of gooey melodrama in between the slapstick. He neither shows the craftsmanship of a skilled filmmaker nor the creativity of a good storyteller. All he cares for is to make the viewers laugh even at the cost of his story’s characters slapping each other mechanically. Agreed that he packs in some good humour at times, but his slam-dunk approach to make you laugh in the climax scene is a big letdown. It leaves you wanting for a real, lung-full of sniff of a super-potent Nitrous Oxide to drive away the disappointment.