By Surendra Bhatia
Is Housefull 4 a success? Yes, it is, but, perhaps, with an asterix to say, conditions apply. It is not a hit or blockbuster that the producers may have prayed for and the film industry hoped for, but both would make some money out of it, unlike an average or below-average runner which leaves many bereft.
But, now the question that ought not to be asked in an industry which worships box-office figures, is: Was Housefull 4 a film worthy of even the limited success it has had? Sadly, according to many opinions, no. Many believe that in the success of Housefull 4 lies its failure, and if the producers embark on another sequel, they would need to make doubly sure that they offer in the film much more than they did in the fourth edition. Two earlier editions were genuinely liked as entertainers but this edition has left many among the audiences disappointed.
In fact, the film had almost been classified as an ordinary fare before Goddess Mahalaxmi stepped in, in the form of a number of Diwali holidays, to rescue it from the pits it might have slipped into. Housefull 4 opened on the pre-Diwali Friday and collected a disappointing Rs. 16 crore. Granted that pre-Diwali days keep the Hindu population, in particular, busy with preparations and shopping but despite that the collections were underwhelming for a potential blockbuster.
The revival came only on Monday, the New Year holiday and the day after the Diwali pooja and celebrations, when the collections shot up from a disappointing Rs. 16.5 crore to an amazing Rs. 33.5 crore! Now, this kind of a jump in collections is highly unusual… and has not been seen in quite a few years. In the next couple of days, also holidays, collections stayed high as Housefull 4 remained the only cinematic entertainer in town.
It is a hypothesis for which, obviously, no evidence can be offered but if Monday onwards, the Diwali-New Year holidays had not interceded, would Housefull 4 have seen such a substantial jump in the box-office? Conventional wisdom suggests that a normal working Monday would have seen the collections, indeed, drop drastically. Accepted that Friday (had it not been pre-Diwali) may have seen better collections, though not necessarily so as the public feedback and word-of-mouth on the film was not as good as expected.
It may seem a harsh statement but Housefull 4 seems to have crossed the red line in its account books largely because of the traditional holidays when footfalls in cinemas are unusually high. It owes its success more to the Diwali holidays than its intrinsic merits.
It’s not an original analogy but when you buy the most expensive vegetables and fresh imported fish and the best cuts of meat, it’s not a good idea to cook them with stale masala that has been lying in the open in your kitchen since some years. It just ain’t going to make for a delicious meal. It might be edible but not as palatable as it could be with freshly ground masala.
Housefull 4 is not the first instance of a marquee production underpinned by a stale script, but it does hurt the senses that, but for a little more focus on the script, it could have been so much better, like a couple of its earlier editions were. This is not to say that its box-office performance is not appreciated but for a Diwali release and a franchise film, it ought to have been a blockbuster, and it would have been so if only it had had a better script.
The earlier three editions of Housefull offered the creative base and style of humour that made the fourth edition possible. Housefull 4 doesn’t offer either. Yes, it has done well commercially but it has eroded the goodwill of the franchise among audiences to a great extent. Unless the next edition has something more to offer, even the blessings of Goddess Mahalaxmi may be inadequate to resuscitate it.