Martin Scorsese, Marvel Movies and Housefull 4

I discern that these films are slapstick comedies, they are not even close to cinema, forget good cinema. Then, why am I writing a piece of critique for Housefull 4, having seen the previous installments and knowing what I’m going in for? Maybe I couldn’t consume more of them. Films are a product of their time and back when they had released, I liked the first two movies. They are not great movies by any means, but they at least made me laugh 9 years ago. There it ends. I didn’t like Housefull 3, because the concept was beaten to death by then, in 2016, I didn’t loathe it, though. Then why did I watch Housefull 4? I just wanted have a silly fun time at the movies. What I got is definitely not what I expected. Hence, leading to this.

To those who are not aware of the famed/infamed Housefull franchise, the first film in 2010, was touted as a comedy of errors with an ensemble cast. Same with the second film with a bigger ensemble cast. The third was relatively smaller on scale, but still bigger than any normal film. And the film in discussion, is the biggest of all, and is touted as a ‘reincarnation comedy’. Love stories that are left midway in 1419 end in 2019. Uff. Too much for a silly slapstick comedy, right? By any means, I’m not dismissing the genre. Let it be There’s Something About Mary, The Gods Must be Crazy, Airplane, or even The Pink Panther, I’ve enjoyed these films more than many other comedies. And we have our very own Dhamaal and Golmaal, which never fail to me make me chuckle, even after a decade of their release. But the issue with Housefull 4 is something that needs to be discussed as it speaks about larger scheme of things.

While there is a heated debate going on right now about Cinema and Marvel movies, I’m ashamed that this movie is minting money just like its predecessors. Your question is valid, how is a piece of fluff amidst the ocean of millions of blog posts going to make the tiniest of a difference to the way a billion dollar industry works? The answer is quite simple. It makes zero difference. There’s no beating around the bush here. It won’t make any difference. But even the conversation that Martin Scorsese just started, will it make any difference. No. I hope it does. But I know it won’t. But, why am I writing this anyway? Just to vomit my thoughts out, so I can move on with my life and different films, just like everyone on #FilmTwitter will, eventually. It’s just a matter of time.

The conversation that’s happening out there is between two kind of films- those which try to give an audio visual experience to audience like never before and make them go ‘wow’, and those which touch the human in you and make you go ‘awee’. In both the cases, there is a response. On one side, you have billion dollar franchises and on the other side, you have these little stories set in your very own neighborhood. Which one would you pay to see in a theatre? The answer is obvious, something that can make you go ‘wow’ and give you a bang for your buck. It’s not a mistake or a wrong choice, it’s just what you like and your taste. It’s not bad taste either. It is what it is. The reason I’m ashamed to write this is – We as Indian film audience, don’t stand a chance to take part in this global conversation. And it is because of garbage like Housefull 4.

It hurts me that a movie which writers were least bothered to write, with actors behaving like they are on a paid vacation with no interest in acting and made with no passion just to make a quick buck, is minting more money than all the little films that tried to tell stories with genuine passion for cinema, made the whole year. Housefull 4 has no respect for its audience. I’ll withdraw this statement if the demography the movie targets are toddlers who haven’t developed all their senses, let alone the sense of cinema. Still, I would be baffled that wouldn’t make them laugh. If horror film failing to scare its audience is an offence, a comedy film failing to make the audience laugh is a grave offense. In that sense, all the billed crew and cast if the film should be charged with criminal charges. And that still wouldn’t bring justice to the crime that this film commits to the institution called ‘Cinema’.

Some might now say, cinema is a source of entertainment, right? Why take it so seriously?

No, my dear friend- Cinema is an art form and perhaps, we, Indians forget this over time. Cinema is not about your favourite ‘hero’ walking in slow motion everytime after delivering a punchline. Poor Scorsese, I can’t imagine the mental trauma the man will go through if he watches Indian ‘commercial’ movies. Coming back to the topic, even if you consider movies a source of entertainment, you need to relook the definition of entertainment.

The word ‘Entertain’ comes from the juxtaposition of French entre which comes from Latin Inter both words meaning ‘together, or among’, and Latin tenere, which means ‘to hold’. So, literally, entertain means to ‘hold or support together’.

So, a film can be termed entertaining when it held you in your seat throughout its runtime and immersed you in the proceedings. That is definitely not we, Indians, associate entertainment with. Am I wrong? So, it is disturbing that Housefull 4 is getting all the attention, and footfalls when it is not what it is supposed to be.

I’m not jealous of Housefull 4 doing well at the box office. I just feel sad that a terrible, horrondous, atrocious, annoying, unfunny, agitating, disturbing, barbaric, and lousy movie is doing well at the box office while many films that actually stand true to the word Cinema, go unnoticed in the same country. If you feel I’m being too harsh and dismissive about the film – No. I’m not. I’ll explain a scene from the movie. A sort-of antagonist is shot in the abdomen. He blacks out and is on the verge of dying. When he hears that someone who killed his brother in their previous life is reincarnated just like him, he wakes up and starts kicking some ass. 2 minutes later, everything is sorted out and he is playing harmonium. There’s no blood on his shirt either. Have the filmmakers not seen this while shooting it? Ok. Forget. Have they not checked it while editing? Leave it. They must have seen the film while dubbing, re-recording and a bunch of times before release, right? Why wasn’t this sorted out? It’s because they take audience for granted. This is just a scene that is visibly wrong and the film is filled with such scenes. If I go on a deeper, it gets nastier than batshit.

I have seen some brilliant Indian films at the recently closed 21st Mumbai International Film Festival. These films tell powerful stories of real people, have great social commentary, possess capability to spark important conversations, and most importantly – they are entertaining films. The saddest part is – most of these films will not find the audience they deserve and ultimately fail in doing all the afore mentioned things. Now, whose aberration is it? Who is responsible for the current state of Indian cinema? Is it the filmmakers’ lapse for making the same kind of films and making the audience habituated to those? Or is the audience’s bungle for guzzling the same kind of films without ever questioning the monotony? You tell me.

Marvel movies are true to the word ‘entertainment’, and they are done with an utmost passion with an aspiration to give its audience something they have not experienced prior. Fill their time in the theatre with joy, just like theme parks. But, we as Indians are not eligible to take part in the debate between the two kinds of cinema. And that’s a sad thing. With this, I rest my case.

I’m pretty sure I put more effort in writing this piece of fluff than the makers did for making a 100 crore Housefull 4. I sincerely hope I won’t have to write a letter till Housefull 5 crosses 300 crores.

Just watch the trailer of the film.
Trailer of the third film.
A comedy scene from the third film.

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