Tag Archives: Chunky Pandey

Movie Review: Housefull 2 (2012)

1.5 Stars (out of 4)

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When is a sequel not a sequel? Housefull 2 is a strange, boring spectacle that has nothing to do with 2010’s Housefull.

Okay, not precisely nothing. Both are wacky comedies about mistaken identities and concealing romantic relationships from one’s parents. Both starred Akshay Kumar and Ritesh Deshmukh. But Kumar and Deshmukh don’t play the same characters as they did in the first movie.

In Housefull, Deshmukh played a card dealer named Bob while Kumar played an unlucky doofus named Aarush. In Housefull 2, Deshmukh plays millionaire’s son Jolly, while Kumar plays a sleaze named Sunny. Sunny then pretends to be Jolly. Confused, yet?

Jacqueline Fernandez and Malaika Arora Khan were both item girls in Housefull and also return as different characters in Housefull 2. Fernandez plays Bobby (not Bob, Deshmukh’s original character), and Khan plays a different item girl.

Here’s where things get weird. Boman Irani plays a character named Batuk Patel in both movies, but it’s not the same Batuk Patel! In Housefull 2, Batuk seeks to marry off his only daughter, Parul (Shazahn Padamsee) to the son of his best friend, JD (Mithun Chakraborty). In the original Housefull, Batuk’s daughter is Hetal (played by Lara Dutta), which is incidentally the name of Batuk’s deceased wife in Housefull 2.

The only character and actor to make the transition from one movie to the next intact is Chunky Pandey’s funny half-Indian, half-Italian schmoozer, Aakhri Pasta.

As if all this half-baked crossover isn’t bad enough, the plot of Housefull 2 is thin and stupid. Two feuding half-brothers, Daboo (Randhir Kapoor) and Chintu (Rishi Kapoor), want to secure the richest husband in England for their respective daughters, Bobby and Henna (Asin Thottumkal). When Chintu insultingly rejects the family of one possible groom, Jai (Shreyas Talpade), the young man vows to get revenge by making sure Henna is dumped at the altar.

Jai is pals with Jolly, England’s most desirable bachelor. They hire their college friend, Max (John Abraham), to pose as Jolly and trick Chintu and Henna. Max accidentally gets engaged to Bobby, so Jai and Jolly call Sunny to trick Chintu. Max and Sunny hate each other, but Daboo and Chintu live in adjoining townhouses, and — OH, NO! — what if they see each other?!

This covers the first forty-five minutes of the plot. Things only get stupider and more annoying until the end of Housefull 2‘s unbearable 155 minute runtime.

In addition to the sloppy story construction, there are continuity errors throughout. Henna has a pet “crocodile” that is really an alligator. Sunny falls asleep in a raft out at sea, and when he wakes up in the raft the next morning after it washes ashore, there’s already sand on his shoes. Henna puts her finger to her ear to indicate that she’s talking on a Bluetooth headset, but she’s not actually wearing one.

All these mistakes — combined with the crap story– point to the fact that Housefull 2 is just a cash grab designed to trick people who enjoyed Housefull (myself included). A cast full of stars can’t save something this inept and nonsensical.

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Movie Review: Housefull (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)

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These days, it’s safe to assume that any movie starring Akshay Kumar is a slapstick comedy. Such is the case with Housefull. Yet the strength of the cast and some well-executed bits make Housefull better than the average Bollywood screwball comedy.

Kumar plays Aarush, a guy whose luck is so bad that a casino pays him to walk around the gaming floor when the house is losing too much money, jinxing the players just by being near them. When his girlfriend turns down his marriage proposal, he flies to London to commiserate with his childhood buddy, Bob (Ritesh Deshmukh).

Bob, a card dealer, is married to Hetal (Lara Dutta), who works as a cocktail waitress. Within hours of his arrival, Aarush accidentally destroys Bob & Hetal’s home, along with their pet parrot. Hetal takes pity on Aarush, who has no other family or friends. She herself is estranged from her father, Batuk (Boman Irani), who wanted her to marry a wealthier man than Bob.

The couple arranges a marriage between Aarush and Devika (Jiah Khan), the daughter of a wealthy casino owner. But on their honeymoon in Italy, Devika reveals that she agreed to the marriage only to pacify her father, who disapproved of her Anglo boyfriend. Distraught, Aarush tries to kill himself, only to be rescued by the lovely Sandy (Deepika Padukone).

Aarush’s bad luck inspires most of the jokes in the early part of the movie but becomes less important the more characters are introduced. Housefull transitions into a comedy about mistaken identities, usually involving characters pretending to be married to someone to whom they are not.

The slapstick humor in Housefull is, at times, surprisingly funny. One example is a fistfight between Aarush and a monkey. On paper, it sounds stupid. But slow-motion closeups of a human fist hitting a monkey in the jaw, followed by a closeup of Aarush taking a small monkey fist to the cheek, accompanied by a Rocky-inspired soundtrack, manage to be hilarious onscreen.

Chunky Pandey also deserves praise for his turn as Akhri Pasta, the half-Indian, half-Italian hotel owner (his father was named Spaghetti Pasta). He wears a leisure suit and speaks in a jumble of Italian, Spanish and celebrity names: “Mama mia! Gracias. Al Pacino.” Pandey takes the role far enough to sell it, but not so far as to be annoying. It shouldn’t be so funny, but it is.

Besides being a bit predictable, the movie has two big flaws. The ending scene is too long and unfunny. If a movie is going to last more than two-and-a-half hours, it had better be for a good reason.

The second problem is a moment of racial insensitivity. It’s minor compared to some other Hindi films (Kambakkht Ishq and All the Best, for instance), but it points to a lack of understanding of when a joke crosses the line.

In order to validate a lie, Hetal borrows a baby to pass off as her own. The only kid to be found on short notice is the son of her black co-worker. When Hetal’s father remarks on the unexpected race of his grandson, Aarush (who’s pretending to be Hetal’s husband) blurts out that his mother was from Africa.

That’s where the joke should have ended. But Aarush begins to jump up and down holding an imaginary spear, mimicking a Maasai tribesman.

It’s not a joke born out of malice, but it trades on a stereotype in a way that lacks self-awareness. It’s awkward enough to draw attention to itself, ruining the sense of being immersed in the movie.

* Housefull has a posted runtime of 2 hrs. 15 min., but it’s actually closer to 2 hrs. 35 min.

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Movie Review: De Dana Dan (2009)

0.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Rather than a cohesive movie, De Dana Dan is a muddle of sideplots with no connecting thread. As a result, the talents of Bollywood’s comedy all-stars are squandered in an unsatisfying waste of two hours and forty-five minutes.

De Dana Dan gets off to a bad start for those of us who don’t understand Hindi, as Akshay Kumar’s opening narration isn’t subtitled in English. What I was able to work out is that Kumar’s character, Nitin, works as an a kind of indentured servant for the overbearing Kuljeet (Archana Puran Singh). Nitin’s buddy, Ram (Sunil Shetty), is likewise paying off debts by working as a delivery man.

Nitin’s girlfriend, Anjali (Katrina Kaif), and Ram’s girlfriend, Manpreet (Sameera Reddy), are sick of waiting for their guys to raise enough cash to marry them. So Nitin and Ram concoct a scheme to kidnap Kuljeet’s beloved dog and demand a ransom for his return. Of course, things don’t go as planned.

Meanwhile, a conman named Chadda (Paresh Rawal) tries to arrange a marriage between his son, Nonny (played by Chunky Pandey, who’s only 12 years younger than Rawal), and Anjali. Chadda plans to use her dowry money to pay off his debts. When Anjali lies to Nonny that she’s pregnant with someone else’s child, the conmen target Manpreet and her family instead.

The rest of the movie contains seemingly infinite cases of mistaken identity among the innumerable characters, some of whom — like Neha Dhupia’s dancer/thief — exist only to add to the confusion, not to further the plot. Granted, what passes for plot in De Dana Dan is little more than characters running, shouting, hiding from each other and falling on each other in compromising positions.

De Dana Dan is convoluted and irritating, rather than complex and interesting, and the final product is boring and empty. The romances between the penniless guys and their wealthy girlfriends feel hollow, since both couples are prepared to break up if the dog-napping scheme fails.

Paresh Rawal does his best as the movie’s lead actor (despite Kumar’s and Kaif’s prominence on the movie posters), but there’s ultimately no one to root for in this film.

The movie also contributes to a distressing trend I’ve written about before: the seeming acceptability of violence against women in Hindi cinema. Early in De Dana Dan, Anjali’s father slaps her hard enough to knock her over. Then he slaps her mother and threatens to break their legs if they defy him.

As the movie progresses, Anjali’s father assumes a supposedly comic role, accidentally groping a woman and chasing after the wrong guy. But how can the audience think him funny when he’s been established as an abusive husband and father?

I accept that physical punishment within families could be viewed differently in India than it is in The United States (although spanking your toddler and slapping your adult daughter’s face are on opposite ends of the corporal punishment spectrum). But I can’t imagine that abuse is so widely accepted that it’s considered funny.