Bollywood’s leading punsters Farhad-Sajid, who cannot allow a word or a name to pass unmolested, have their work cut out for them in Housefull 3. Apart from writing duties, the siblings have also directed the movie, which features three heroines, three heroes who pretend to have disabilities, a villain with three sons, a London setting, and the compulsion to extract laughs in every second of every scene in case audiences get wise to how shopworn the material is.
Each of the three heroes – Akshay Kumar as Sandy, Ritesh Deshmukh as Teddy and Abhishek Bachchan as Bunty – is given a distinguishing profession. Sandy plays football, Teddy wants to be race driver Ayrton Senna, while Bunty is a rapper. The women, of course, only have their names to tell one from another. Ganga (Jacqueline Fernandez), Jamuna (Lisa Haydon) and Saraswati (Lisa Haydon) are sisters who are so alike that they seem to have been born on the same day. They even share the habit of translating English idioms into Hindi: “Kaamwali gai to kaamwali gai” or let bygones be bygones and “Hum bachche nahi bana rahe hain” or “We are not kidding.”
We too are not kidding when we tell you that the father of the women, Batuk (Bomani Irani), has convinced them that they are cursed and hence should not marry. Aakhri Pasta (Chunkey Pandey), a recurring character in the franchise, pretends to be an astrologer and tells the trinity that each of their boyfriends should, respectively, not touch Batuk, look at him, or speak to him. Accordingly, Sandy pretends to be disabled, Teddy blinks his eyes to indicate that he is blind, while Bunty keeps his lips sealed on all occasions. The ruse works – as does the movie – until the point when Jackie Shroff’s gangster, who has a connection to Batuk and the women, enters the picture.
When disability is a joke, why should skin colour be left behind? Batuk has three maidservants who are all black, and who also play their part in adding to the chaos that is a staple of the franchise.
Kumar and Deshmukh have been in the house in the previous two editions, know what is to be done, and behave accordingly. Kumar’s Sandy has an added quality: whenever he hears the word Indian, he assumes another personality, called Sundi, and starts beating up the wrong people. It’s one of the best ideas in the movie, and could have amounted to something more than a sight gag of Kumar running around like a character out of Scary Movie, but Farhad-Sajid don’t get their own joke.
The filmmakers have aimed to deliver a puerile movie, and, in fact, will be offended by any discussion about Housefull 3 that does not involve its box office prospects. We are in the mythical “critics will hate it but audiences will love it” zone, and since the movie aims to be nothing more than a weekend moneyspinner, it is accordingly forgettable and disposable. “Agli baar achche jokes ko todo”, or crack better jokes the next time.