The surprise in Housefull 3 isn’t that it’s spectacularly unfunny. It’s that it needn’t have been so. Sajid-Farhad, who wrote and directed this film (that a “director,” leave alone two, was needed for this mess is surely some kind of in-joke), are good at thinking up running gags. There’s one about three women whose Hindi is a literal translation of what they want to say in English. Hum log bachcha nahin bana rahen hain, one of them says. Meaning: “We are not kidding.” Or maybe the meaning is really: “You’ve been warned.” The un-PC set-up of three men pretending to be differently abled is even better, especially when their “handicaps” are interchanged due to some confusion. Then there’s Akshay Kumar, as mild-mannered Sandy. He has a split personality – every time he hears the word “Indian,” his id transforms into havoc-wreaking Sundi. In other words, there’s enough here to make – if not a sustained comedy classic – at least a bunch of jokey segments that one of those YouTube elves can eventually splice together under “Ultimate Scene – Best of Comedy Star Akshay Kumar – Housefull 3.” But no. Nothing works.
It comes down to the actors. The film needed manic comedians like Jim Carrey, Kishore Kumar, Johny Lever, Keshto Mukherjee. (Even a Johnny Walker is too “civilised” for this kind of comedy.) It needed their jack-in-the-box energy, their ability to make us smile the second they appeared on screen and keep us smiling as they bravely sacrificed their dignity at the altar of our mirth. Instead, we get three heroines (Jacqueline Fernandez, Nargis Fakhri, Lisa Haydon) who just stand around, looking pretty. Forget comedy, they can barely mouth their lines. We get Boman Irani, all out of sorts – in every scene he appears, he seems to be whispering to us, “Look, don’t judge me, I have a family to support, okay?” Abhishek Bachchan fares worse. He has to keep a game face as the film keeps reminding us that his father and wife are far more famous. Bachchan is terrific with a certain kind of urbane comedy, but his Swiss-finishing-school vibe clashes terribly with all this cheerfully crude slapstick. Even the usually reliable Riteish Deshmukh and Akshay Kumar just phone it in. Their smug faces have one expression, and it’s “why bother when you guys are going to show up anyway?”. Only Chunky Pandey seems to be trying. His character is named Aakhri Pasta, and he looks delighted to be playing a bad pun on an Amitabh Bachchan movie. When the inevitable Housefull 4 comes around, they should have more of him. Imagine the possibilities. He could play the son of a marsupial from Punjab: Koala Puttar. Don’t groan. It’s a better joke than anything in Housefull 3.
- Housefull = see here
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