Sunday, April 8, 2012

Housefull 2: Thank God for Sajid Khan.

When I reviewed the original Housefull way back in 2010, I subtitled it if Sajid Khan didn’t exist I would have to invent him. My sense of humor was guided along by my father to appreciate things like The Three Stooges, The Marx Brothers, and classic Warner Brothers cartoons. I love sound effects, ridiculous outfits, terrible puns, visual gags, and full-body physical comedy. Some people hate all of these things (my mother, for one, along with every working movie critic in Bombay) but, if you ask me, there is nothing inherently stupid about physical comedy. Bits like Chico Marx playing the piano or the epic mime battle from Golmaal 3 take a lot of practice and skill to pull off. (Are there any actors out there who have tried getting the pace right for a scene with no dialogues?) Not to mention, in the case of the Golmaal 3 gag, a sound engineer who has a feel for comedy sound effects. In other words, just because Housefull 2 features John Abraham taunting a snake by saying it can’t even give him a high five, does not make it an inherently terrible film - it just makes it a hilarious film.

With that in mind, let’s move on to the review!

[No spoilers here, no matter how much I want to talk about a certain spoiler in particular.]

Housefull 2 is the story of four college friends - Jolly (Ritesh Deshmukh), Jai (Shreyas Talepade), Max (John Abraham), and Sunny (Akshay Kumar) - who want to get married to four girls (Zarine Khan, Shazahn Padamsee, Jackie Fernandez, and Asin, respectively). There is one major problem - Jolly’s father JD (Mithun Chakraborty). See, JD has already fixed Jolly’s marriage and isn’t going to approve of Jolly’s current girlfriend JLo (Zarine). What happens when he brings her home? And what if when he brings her home, his house is already occupied by Max and Sunny both pretending to be JD’s son Jolly to their prospective fathers-in-law (Randhir Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor)? And WHAT IF the actual girl Jolly was promised to shows up? The answer is a lot of running around, gags, and Johnny Lever acting flustered. Plus, Malaika Arora Khan dropping in to dance.

In the finest tradition of Bollywood sequels, Housefull 2 brings almost nothing back from the first Housefull except a handful of actors and Chunky Pandey’s character “Akhri Pasta.”. This was perfectly fine by me for a few reasons. First of all, the first Housefull had a fever-pitch campaign of hype around the fact that the lead actresses were all going to wear bikinis. I’m not anti-bikini in theory (hello, Bipasha in Dhoom 2) but in practice these days it tends to mean that we will be seeing more ribs than curves. The number of actresses who have that figure and who are also funny is almost nil. And, indeed, the two leading ladies* of Housefull turned in performances that ranged from nails on the blackboard annoying to barely mediocre. Sajid Khan seems to have learned his lesson** and though he casts four leading ladies in Housefull 2, only one is a bikini casting and that one (Shazahn Padamsee) has the least amount of screen time of anybody in the film - and that includes Chunky Pandey.

Secondly, the khiladi is back. Housefull had Akshay playing a “nerd,” which, while amusing, doesn’t really fully tap the talents of Akshay. It also didn’t fully tap the interest of Akshay, who sometimes seemed to be half-assing his way through scenes in Housefull. Housefull 2 has him in full khiladi mode seducing, doing martial arts, and just being the boss of all bosses.

Thirdly, Sajid Khan seems to have finally figured out how to pace a mistaken identity farce. I really enjoyed his previous two efforts - Heyy Babyy and Housefull - but the two both had some serious pacing problems. Housefull 2, on the other hand, masterfully juggles four different mistaken identity plotlines along with some other tangents without ever letting the film go slack or get too muddled. The mix of elements is better, too, with the addition of the fight sequences.

Okay, without giving too many gags away, here is what works in Housefull 2.

Akshay Kumar is on fire. His character, Sunny, is hugely influenced by yesteryears villain Ranjeet’s style in romancing up ladies - though not the raping part, which leads to an unbelievably hilarious gag later in the film.

John Abraham has stepped up his game considerably since the Garam Masala days and holds his own quite well. His character’s defining characteristic is a propensity to talk in really stupid puns, all of which were so bad they were good. Also, John Abraham taunting a snake by saying that it can’t even give him a high five must surely count up with his top on-screen moments.

Ritesh Deshmukh is adorable. He gives a solid performance and has nice chemistry with Zarine. I always like Ritesh and Housefull 2 is no exception.

Likewise, Shreyas Talepade also gives a solid performance, as to be expected, and left me wondering when he became so handsome.

As the main heroine, Asin has the most to do and she does it well. As we discovered in Ready, Asin has a nice flare for this type of comedy. She certainly held her own opposite Akshay, which is no small feat.

Jackie Fernandez and Zarine Khan didn’t have much to do other than keep up with the rest of the team while looking pretty but they did it with flying colors. Whoever did Jackie’s styling deserves some sort of medal, she was looking stunning! Also, I really want Zarine’s swimsuit from the resort sequence. Very cute!

And the token bikini girl Shazahan “Why did she get that terrible nose job” Padamsee wasn’t on screen long enough to annoy me, which is a win in everybody’s books.

Rishi and Randhir were in top form! Their characters “Chintu” and “Daboo” (yes, really) are half-brothers who hate each others guts and their bickering was really, really funny. Also, for whatever reason, part of the gag involving Rishi’s character was that he wears a bow-tie with every outfit and it is hilarious.

Mithun is... Mithun. This film wouldn’t have worked without him. I always appreciate seeing good old Mithun-da on screen.

Johnny Lever is fantastic. He gets in a great gag towards the end where he does spot on imitations of all the four leading men.

Chunky Pandey had me in stitches every time he was on-screen. Sajid is smart, though, and uses the power of the “I’m-a-jooooking” gag in small doses.

Malaika Arora Khan is a dream.

The songs and song picturizations are a lot of fun - my favorite was the color-splosion of “Papa Toh Band Bajaye” which really must be seen to be believed. Farah outdid herself on that song.

And, yes, the laughs keep building and building - no curse of the second half here!

So, do I recommend Housefull 2? Only if the idea of John Abraham taunting a snake makes you giggle and you appreciate the sight of Rishi Kapoor in a bow-tie. Comedy is subjective and not everybody is going to find the same things funny but if you can appreciate a fine visual gag and have a few hours to spare, Housefull 2 is definitely worth the price of admission.

* Not counting Jiah Khan who was, obviously, a pure delight. Her “whip” song was one of the highlights of the film.

** I suspect his reluctance to bikini cast had more to do with how unpleasant it is to wrangle dieting, cranky, and divaish actresses into bikinis and onto the screen. We didn’t hear any stories from Housefull 2 like the ones from Housefull of Deepika Padukone throwing temper tantrums over wearing a bikini and locking herself in her trailer for hours on end.


June ♥ JA said...

I loved it too. Like you, I have a passion for over the top comedy and H2 certainly delivered as far as I'm concerned. I'll be buying the DVD so I can watch it again and again!

Raye S. said...

I'm dismally depressed that I live really far from anywhere that might show this, thus waiting for the DVD is the best I can get for now; so thanks for the great review :)))))

Moimeme said...

It just struck me that "librarian" and "low brow" don't really go together. :)

I'm glad you enjoyed HF2, and really glad that Akshay might get into the "100 crore club" with this.

Swarnadip Ray said...

fabulassssssss.... :D :D:D :D:D :D:D :D:D :D

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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