So what rating did you accord to Houseful 2? This is an oft asked question to me by those who know I review films for some money (the only fact to substitute my fledgling claim of being a professional film critic) and those who happen to read my reviews every once in a while.
I tried answering that question initially. I said it’s bad, ugly, despicable piece of cinema- for most parts it does not merit being called that- and I still stand by that view of mine. Sometimes, my questioner would agree with me and what would follow is a short sigh-laden conversation of how cinematic standards are going to the dogs of late. A majority though, disagreed with me-vehemently at that. They found the movie hilarious. They just couldn’t stop laughing all the way till the end. Some even went to the extent of calling it the best thing to hit the silver screen this season.
To be honest I was expecting this.
Given the box office trends in the past decade, the dumb, the dumber and the dumbest are the only ones raking in the moolah. Golmaal 1,2&3, Houseful 1, Ready, Welcome, a slew of “intended” comedies have hit me and the few who don’t find these funny hard. Making us wonder time and again how these films run.
We, the lovers of the art of cinema, dismissed these as flukes, flashes in the pan. Releasing on dry weeks when no other biggie released or during festivals when all the public wanted was to have a good time at the theaters. Feel good factor, ample star cast, leading star’s winning streak or the good old plain simple good luck- we gave numerous justifications to their success. Houseful 2 is out now, making new records for opening day collections for the lead stars and is on its way to being the director’s third huge mindless comedy. Making me wonder that this cannot be just a flash in the pan. The success of these films is a pattern, if not a growing trend.
The success of these films, rather the continued success of these films, is an indication of a new emerging genre in Hindi cinema. Our audiences love them, in them they find security, in them they feel safe.
As Bollywood is changing, so are the movies it makes. The “formula” is changing; the love story is no longer a rich girl meets poor boy saga. The guy is no more “take the heroine and walk into the sunset” macho man, he does settle with just a friendship (Ek Main AurEkTu).The films are getting grittier, the concepts out of the box, the technique is slicker, the scale grander. Films today demand from the audience more than just an across the board suspension of disbelief. They demand that the audience think. They demand that the audience participate in the journey of the movie, not just sit back and witness a spectacle. For some, this is exactly the kind of cinema they have always been waiting for. This is evident from the success of “hatke” films like Kahani, Delhi Belly and Shaitaan.For most though, this is a challenge, a threat, a situation that is uncomfortable and which they would avoid if given a choice.
It is perhaps this that makes movies like Houseful and Ready click- the fact that these films demand nothing form the audience.
Everyone loves to spend time every once in a while away from their mundane lives. Everyone wants those few odd hours away from miseries however big or small. Some of us love to spend those three odd hours in an AC hall munching on popcorn, with a gang of friends just whistling at skimpily clad bimbetteon the screen.
Some love to watch a film that is just entertainment, however banal or juvenile. They crave for a film that is all about dazzling stars in dazzling set pieces singing dazzling songs. Few call them the masses, few paint them as those incapable of appreciating higher art, everyone agrees they are the ones with the maximum money to be spent at the ticket windows and they are the ones warming those theatre seats time and again each time a Houseful releases.
So then, where does that leave us lovers of cinema with art?
Is it time we stopped crying hoarse at the quality (or lack of it) of these films? Is it time we stop cribbing about the standards (or the death of it) of cinema these films exhibit? Is it time we judge these films with a yardstick that is as unique as the amazing success of these films? May be if we stopped judging these films against our sensibilities and saw them as a new genre altogether, we might actually have an answer to the question in the beginning of this piece that is in accordance to the many who find Houseful 2 entertaining?
Sometimes, all it takes to make the world a better place is a new pair of sunglasses. May be all it takes to make Houseful 2 palatable is a different scale to measure it with.
Meanwhile, another “reader” of my reviews has just called me elitist incapable of appreciating genuine entertainers. Yes, he was upset that I found Houseful disgusting.