Housefull begins in a casino in Macao. People are winning; the house is losing. So, management calls in “the Cooler.” One of the waiters asks what the deal with the Cooler is – is he a khiladi? The comedy sardar answers to the effect that the Cooler is a loser. Enter Akshay Kumar to the strains of “He’s Such A Loser” (but oddly not the version I remember for the OST). The Khiladi is not a khiladi in Housefull - as Arush, the unluckiest man in the world, he does a variation of his Average Rahul character from Welcome with just a hint of the dorky astronaut from Jann-e-Mann. A series of unfortunate events sends him to London where he reunites with his best friend Bob (a buff Riteish Deshmukh) and Bob’s wife Hetel (Lara Dutta, starting off down the road to madamism) who try to get him in a match with their boss’s daughter Devika (an underused Jiah Khan) but he seems more interested in Sandy (Deepika Padukone).
I’m not going to run down the plot for you because it would be pointless. Stuff happens more or less in accordance to what the plot needs to move forward. Story is very clearly pretty far down on Sajid Khan’s list of priorities, which worked perfectly fine for me. I was more interested in everything else that was happening, so let me share my observations with you as spoiler free as I can.
The performances were mostly good. Akshay seemed a bit tired at times but he gamely danced, climbed stuff, and dishoom-ed a monkey (accompanied by, and this is important, a sound effect of somebody literally saying “dishoom.”) Possibly Arush needed to catch up on some sleep but he never really let it show. Riteish and Arjun were both great back-up for Akshay and if Sajid Khan makes a third film in this style I would love to see the three reunited for what is really Sajid’s best style of gag – homoerotic humor. Dostana and Kal Ho Na Ho pale before the gags that Sajid gets in – both explicit (a fantasy scene involving Ritiesh that had me laughing so hard I cried) and subtextual (please notice the pose Riteish and Akshay end up in during a vacuum cleaner gag). Sajid Khan is like the Mozart of homoerotic humor.
As for the women, the real winner here was Jiah Khan. She was phenomenal in her role as Devika and especially during the fantasy song “I Don’t Know What To Do” (watch the song trailer here). Jiah and Akshay had a really nice chemistry and I actually forgot that she is like 20 years younger than him because he perked up so much when she was around. The way Jiah bosses and grabs at Akshay during “I Don’t Know What To Do” was one of the highlights of the film for me.
The other two leading ladies… well, I’m trying to think of a polite way to say this. Deepika was adequite. She was gorgeous for sure but her performance wasn’t great. But neither was she awful. Her presence didn’t really add or detract from the film in anyway although I noticed that Sajid had her do this clasping her hands in front of her face move from time to time that seemed to serve the purpose of hiding her giggles. Lara Dutta, on the other hand, was awful. I don’t know how else to put it – Lara looks rough. Her body is in great shape, sure, but her face… her nose job and eye-lift surgery have not aged well. Plus, her comedic antics were shrill and seemed out of sync with everyone else. Add to that the fact that she used an annoying teeny-tiny high-pitched voice when she was trying to be emotional and you can see why I tried to block her out of every scene she was in.
As long as I’m being honest with you, let me tell you something – Lara and Deepika cannot dance and the two of them together were better suited for the kinds of moves always given to Ajay Devgn then the kinds of things Akshay, Riteish, and even Arjun showed us in the item song “Aap Ka Kya Hoga,” in which the luscious curves of Jacqueline Fernandez took a back seat to the real ‘items’ on display – Akki, Ritiesh, and Arjun all looking and dancing fabulous. “Aap Ka Kya Hoga” also treats us to Akshay doing his famous move from “Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast” and the three amigos reenacting the Saif, Sanju, Shahrukh, Salman move from “Deewangi Deewangi.” Lara and Deepika treat us to some hand waving and mismatched steps. Deepika, at least, has learned how to pose pretty but the dancing should be left to the professionals.
Some of the other treats in store for you in Housefull are Boman Irani in tip-top shape as Lara Dutta’s overbearing father; Chunkey Pandey as a hilarious Italian man named Akhri Pasta who is followed around by an accordian band wherever he goes; and the delectable Lillette Dubey who sweeps down a double staircase in slow motion for her grand entrance. And I swear that the ginormous house used in the film is the same one from Lamhe.
I should warn that this being a Sajid Khan film, there is a joke in really bad taste about Africans and one speech pandering to the nationalists with some strong anti-British/white sentiments expressed but both things pass really quickly and are never referred to again.
So, while I could probably write at least another page or two on how Akshay’s Arush character in Housefull is a stand-in for how Bollywood has been treating the average viewer recently, it’s probably not worth my time or yours to really over-think the Sajid Khan oeuvre. Mind you, I say this having written a 17 page paper on Heyy Babyy, so who knows, I may come back to Housefull.
The take away is this – Sajid Khan knows how to keep everyone entertained. Although not every scene will be your style of humor, there is something for everyone from people (i.e. me) who wear slash goggles to people who like slapstick to people who just want to see Deepika Padukone in skimpy outfits. Housefull takes all of that and adds some very well done song picturizations and ties it all up with a big bow.