Friday, April 06, 2012

Housefull 2

More Than Three's a Crowd

If I may provide an observation from the outside, it seems that some of the best Indian comedies that do well at the box office involve a certain degree of deceit, at least those based on identities where people pretend to be someone else they're not, and involving shenanigans that the characters try to keep from one another, with allies and adversaries either into the same scheme, or trying to uncover the truth from the complex web of lies spun, leading to comedy of wit, and loaded with slapstick. The first Housefull was a riot, but I guess when you try to pack a house with more characters, it reaches breaking point and disintegrates instead of bringing it up to a while new level.

Given that this is not a direct sequel to the first film, where Akshay Kumar was playing a Loser, such a Loser, only the ideas and key moments got repeated here in trying to establish and repeat a formula of success, which if this film proves to be successful at the box office, is sure to be used again for yet another film. And this involves comedy revolving around one identity which everyone impersonates to deceive characters in their respective arcs, especially the father and family figures, in order to earn the hand of the girl they so desire, and having everything come together in a big mansion which provides plenty of opportunity for opinions to clash, and to be avoided.

In essence, there are four pairs of lovebirds now, who mostly start off as adversaries only for make pretend turning into something real, and that took almost the entire first half of the film to plod through before the interval, jet setting between London and a beach resort that provides for plenty of swimwear modelling moments, and a number of ridiculously crafted wire-fu action sequences, coupled with the most absurd cases of courtship rituals. But I guess all these play into what's known as the equivalent of Hong Kong's mo-lei-tau brand of fun. So if you enjoy such madcap moments, including rubber animals being passed off as the real McCoy, then surely you won't be bored here.

Otherwise, the second half kicks things into gear. centered around Jai (Shreyas Talpade) and his revenge against Daboo (Randhir Kapoor) who had insulted his family honour. Daboo is in turn loggerheads with his step brother Chintu (Rishi Kapoor), and both of them create another rivalry to see whose daughter can marry the scion of the richest man in London, Jolly (Ritesh Desmukh), who happens to be Jai's friend. So they enlist the help of confidence trickster and small time pickpocket Sunny (Akshay Kumar) and Max (John Abraham) to go after the two men's daughters Henna (Asin Thottumkal) and Bobby (Jacqueline Fernandez), while at the same time Jai and Jolly have their individual women challenges in Parul (Shazahn Padamsee) and JLo (Zarine Khan) respectively, the former being strung around because of Jai's indecision, while the latter setting an ultimatum to become Mrs Jolly, only because Jolly has father-issues and cannot bring himself to communicate with his dad, Forbe's man of the year JD (Mthun Chakraborty).

Throw in another dad in Parul's with Boman Irani in the role of Batook Patel, a one time police inspector who shares a history with JD, put them all together in JD's sprawling mansion, and with all the four guys pretending to be Jolly one time or another in their respective arcs, you would hope for a lot of comedy to spring up, which they sometimes do thanks to Johnny Lever as JD's butler Vishwas Patil, the only one who suspects a rat amongst the shenanigans. The fun was of course witnessing the web of confusion spun by Akshay Kumar 's Sunny - who again is unfortunately memorable for his crazy sticking-of-the-tongue-out gesture - and how those in the know continue to pull wool around the eyes of the father figures. But alas this dragged on for far too long, and had a resolution that's of the most convenient.

Compared to the first Housefull, this edition seemed like it wanted to play catch up, and if the predecessor can do something, so can it. With the Queen's appearance in the first, this one followed up with a Prince Charles lookalike who didn't look a like, finding opportunity to pull a fast one with a random Camilla joke. The initial rivalry between Akshay Kumar and John Abraham's characters also seemed like a pale shadow to what's already seen and experienced in their most recent collaboration in Desi Boyz, so to dedicate significant screen time for this was like watching that film all over again. The songs also weren't as fun as its predecessor, save for Papa Toh Band Bajaye which was accused of ripping off We Speak No Americano, and the ultra sexy Right Now Now where you have three couples frolicking in the mansion to the disbelief of Vishwas since they're all romancing, in his opinion, the wrong partners.

If only the set up took the more direct route and trimmed itself down rather than to bloat it through a lot of unnecessary bickering and out of this world romancing, because the second half, except the finale, was the highlight. As mentioned, I still have to figure out Bollywood comedies which I suspect could have a lot more dialogues being lost in translation, but still this failed to reach the heights and level of fun set in the original. Still, if this does well at the box office, there could be yet another installment utilizing the same formula, and it remains to be seen then if another set of cast can work the spirit of the original rather than try to be a clone.

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