In the blooper reel during the credits of Sajid Khan's Housefull 2, Rishi Kapoor exclaims loudly to Khan that his film is a hit and he shouldn't fret over the shot they were trying to take. After the fake Oscar ceremony at the end of Farah Khan's Tees Maar Khan where the crew award themselves, I've decided that such self-flattery is a sure-shot symptom of a shallow, wasted film. Living up to the embarrassment of a film that was the original Housefull (2010), the sequel doubles the star-cast and amplifies the buffoonery. Beyond belief. Housefull 2 outdoes the first film in being an excruciating viewing experience.
Retaining Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh, Boman Irani and Randhir Kapoor from the first film, Sajid Khan adds to the mix John Abraham, Asin, Shreyas Talpade, Jacqueline Fernandez, Shazahn Padamsee, Zarine Khan, Mithun Chakraborty and Rishi Kapoor. With such a huge cast, the potentially interesting story - four fathers, four daughters, four potential son-in-laws and a lot of mistaken identities - is butchered by an over-the-top, dim, and at times offensive treatment. What's more, the film has absolutely no link to the first Housefull, which doesn't make it a sequel anyway. But then again, that's the least of the problems in Housefull 2.
Just when you'd think that the inept and superficial characters of the first film couldn't be outdone, here Khan and his writers present even more characters who are only obsessed with money and deceit. This pointless chase for material wealth is not even funny or endearing, as not a single character bears an iota of relatability. You stop caring about every single one of them very soon after they are introduced. After that, it's one cringe-worthy gag and unnecessary plot point after another.
The uninspired writing reaches such lows that Randhir and Rishi Kapoor end up playing warring brothers in the film, whose nicknames are Dabboo and Chintu (their real nicknames) and whose last name is Kapoor. Chunky Pandey plays a mind-numbingly irritating marriage bureau consultant Aakhri Pasta. Riteish Deshmukh's introduction is a pale imitation of Shah Rukh Khan's helicopter-descending-on-country-mansion entrance in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. And the audience is assumed to be so dumb that even the most obvious plot developments have to be spelled out by one of the characters, sometimes repeatedly.
Weak characterization and scenes aside, the supposed humor in the film is an assault on audience intelligence and common decency. With each passing year, we hope and pray that so-called commercial masala filmmakers evolve from thinking that offending particular groups of people counts as comedy. Unfortunately, the comedic racism from Housefull continues in this film too. In one such scene, when the father of Talpade's character (Virendra Saxena) goes to meet Rishi Kapoor, several jokes about Saxena's dark complexion are thrown around. He's referred to as an "African", that his fairer son is much better looking, and that such a black man couldn't have fathered a lovely fair son. In a later scene, Kumar and Abraham weave a false story about Mithun Chakrabarty's character JD having an affair with his dwarf maid. This anecdote too is littered with jokes about dwarfs and a dream sequence where Chakrabarty playfully chases his dwarf maid around a tree.
With characters so blindly chasing material wealth, commentary on social classes (intentional or not) comes across very clearly in the film. As the four potential sons-in-law keep playing identity games, they all end up pretending to be driver to someone else, a situation that again prompts jokes about the servant class being beneath the wealth-mongering fathers. In one instance, one of the fathers jerks away from embracing his supposedly rich son-in-law, repulsed at the accusation that he might indeed be a driver. Madcap entertainment is one thing, but offensiveness and inappropriateness for the sake of humor is a sign of severely limited creative sensibilities.
The performances are exasperating across the board. Of the men, Chakrabarty and Talpade are the most restrained and don't constantly resort to facial contortions or unnecessary shouting and screaming. The Kapoors end up as annoying caricatures of themselves, while Kumar and Abraham have rather diluted characters and deliver just as tepid performances. Deshmukh, on the other hand, looks like he always has to use the bathroom. Irani, in a substantially smaller role than the first film, overdoes it and hardly delivers any laughs.
One thing that is common between most of the male characters is their flamboyance. The men are often effeminate, they prance around, have loud gestures and find themselves in several homoerotic situations. The flamboyance and homoeroticism of male characters is increasingly present in recent slapstick comedies and lends itself to an intriguing discussion on its own.
The women have incredibly stunted characters and therefore very little to actually do. Unlike the first Housefull where the female characters were almost at par with the men in terms of narrative importance, here they exist merely to flaunt their bodies and be toyed around with. Two of the female characters are introduced as staunch animal rights advocates but that too is quickly forgotten once the ridiculous scenes with their exotic pets have passed. After that, all four women are paraded around as objects of desire, dimwitted enough that they repeatedly fall for the games played by their male counterparts.
As the plot of Housefull 2 develops, there is a glimmer - a faint, distant glimmer - of a story that might actually be interesting. The basic premise could have made for a clever and witty situational comedy if handled correctly. Instead, Khan and his writers turn a potentially clever plot into an unfunny, exhausting experience that is an assault on anyone's intelligence. Even the quintessential masala film format should be evolving and growing. Housefull 2 is a prime example of a film that throws such cinema back several steps.