Reincarnation sagas have been immensely popular in Bollywood. There’s a certain charm to see protagonists facing an untimely death and then avenging for the wrongdoings in their next life. Interestingly, there has never been a reincarnation comedy. This void has now been filled thanks to HOUSEFULL 4. The film looks grand in every way and is also the big Diwali release. So does HOUSEFULL 4 emerge as the ideal entertainer for families in this festive season? Or does it fail to impress? Let’s analyse.
HOUSEFULL is the story of three couples and how destiny helps them reunite after 600 years. The story begins in 2019. Harry (Akshay Kumar) is a barber in London who has a habit of momentarily losing his memory when he hears a loud noise. During one such time, he ends up destroying a large amount of money belonging to Michael (Sharad Kelkar) that was given to him for safekeeping by Big Bhai. Big Bhai hence gets angry at Harry, his brother Max (Bobby Deol) and their friend Roy (Riteish Deshmukh). He demands them to return the money of Bhai. Harry, Max and Roy then tell Bhai that they are in a relationship with Pooja (Pooja Hegde), Kriti (Kriti Sanon) and Neha (Kriti Kharbanda) respectively. All three are daughters of a very wealthy man, Papa Ranjeet (Ranjeet). Hence they’ll pay Big Bhai the money once they get married to them. The trio then meet Papa Ranjeet and the marriage is fixed. The venue chosen is a place called Sitamgarh, a town in India. The trio along with their girlfriends and Papa Ranjeet arrive at Sitamgarh palace, which has now been converted into a hotel. The moment they reach there, the bell boy, Aakhri Pasta (Chunky Panday) claims that all of them were a part of the kingdom of Sitamgarh. He goes overboard while making the claim, which makes the guests uncomfortable. Hence the manager Winston Churchgate (Johny Lever) fires Aakhri Pasta. However, Harry has often got flashes of his past life. He goes to Madhavgarh, where Aakhri Pasta resides, to find out more information. As soon as he reaches Madhavgarh, Harry is able to remember his past life. The story then goes on a flashback mode in the year 1419. Bala (Akshay Kumar) is a notorious Prince of Madhavgarh who is banished from the kingdom by his father (Parikshit Sahni). With the help of Pasta (Chunky Panday), he finds out that the king of Sitamgarh, Maharaja Surya Singh Rana (Ranjeet) will be celebrating his birthday and that he had three daughters, Madhu (Kriti Sanon), Meena (Kriti Kharbanda) and Mala (Pooja Hegde). Bala arrives in Sitamgarh and succeeds in wooing Madhu. Meanwhile, Bangdu Maharaj, a dancer in the royal palace, gets into a relationship with Mala while the warrior Dharam (Bobby Deol) starts an affair with Meena. The king even approves the union and their marriages are fixed. All is going well but Suryabhan (Sharad Kelkar) who wants to be king comes up with a plan. He kills brother of Gama (Rana Daggubati), a ferocious chieftain of a neighbouring kingdom. Gama is made to believe that it’s the king who ordered the killing. As a result, Gama arrives in Sitamgarh during the marriage ceremony for revenge. In the ensuing battle, they all die. What happens next forms the rest of the film.
Sara Bodinar and Sajid Nadiadwala's story is very weak. Aakash Kaushik and Madhur Sharma's screenplay (with additional screenplay by Farhad Samji, Tushar Hiranandani, Sparsh Khetarpal and Tasha Bhambra) spoils the show further. It seems like the makers took audiences for granted and in the attempt to show grandeur, they missed out on the factors that made HOUSEFULL such a successful franchise. Farhad Samji's dialogues add to the fun but only at places.
Farhad Samji's direction is unimpressive. Though for most parts, he is able to handle the grandeur and confusion well. The opening credits are very similar to the opening of BAAHUBALI 2: THE CONCLUSION. In fact there’s an in-your-face reference to the film later. However, several sequences are weak and the jokes fall flat. The writing is also to blame but the director should have hidden these shortcomings with his execution. Sadly that doesn’t happen.
HOUSEFULL 4 begins on a very fun note. The madness that happens at Harry’s salon sets the mood. The film gets better as they all reach Sitamgarh. Once the flashback begins, one expects the film to go on a high. But the opposite happens as the humour is missing from the film. Yes there are fun moments but they aren’t funny enough to give audiences a paisa vasool time. Much of the second half is about how Harry tries to persuade Max and Roy that they are doing a mistake by getting married to their bhabhis. The humour here is strictly okay and in the Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s track, it goes out of the window. Thankfully the entry of Pappu Rangeela (Rana Daggubati) acts as a respite. The climax works only in parts. The continuity issues spoil the fun.
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Akshay Kumar emerges as the most entertaining actor in the film. His Bala act is superb but even in the 2019 portions, he is too good. Riteish Deshmukh comes next. As the effeminate Bangdu Maharaj, he does a fine job which was expected as he has done similar roles in the past. Bobby Deol is disappointing as he doesn’t have much to contribute in terms of humour. Rana Daggubati is excellent in both avatars. He adds to the fun in the pre-climax and climax especially. Talking of the girls, all three look stunning. Kriti Sanon gets her share of interesting scenes. Kriti Kharbanda makes a mark in the scenes where she hums Hindi songs. Pooja Hegde is decent. Chunky Panday doesn't get enough scope as in part 1 and 2 but he gets to be a part of some crazy scenes. Johny Lever manages some laughs in the second half. Sharad Kelkar is efficient in a small role. Manoj Pahwa raises laughs in his cameo appearance. Ranjeet is fine. Jamie Lever is okay and the Johny Lever connection comes at a surprise. Parikshit Sahni is nothing great. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is awkward.
Songs are average and they won’t have a recall value. 'Shaitan Ka Saala' is the best of the lot. 'Ek Chumma' comes next followed by 'Badla'. 'The Bhoot Song' is the weakest part of the film while 'Chammo' is forgettable. Julius Packiam's background score is theatrical and the recurring theme is catchy.
Sudeep Chatterjee's cinematography adds to the grandeur. Sham Kaushal's action is good. Amit Ray and Subrata Chakraborty's production design is splendid. Costumes compliment the characters. The ladies especially look gorgeous in both avatars. Do It Creative, AI Solve Ltd and Prime Focus's VFX is of superior quality. The Sitamgarh Kingdom especially is depicted in a fascinating manner. Rameshwar S Bhagat's editing is inconsistent and there are several jumps in the narrative.
On the whole, HOUSEFULL 4 is a major disappointment and suffers on the account of poor writing and vacuous screenplay. The negative word of mouth will ensure that it will crash at the box office though it might still end up crawling to Rs. 100 crore mark on account of festive period and the extended weekend.