Is 'Housefull 3' humourous or offensive? Here's what a feminist thought

Pradeep Menon

Jun 08, 2016 14:50:24 IST

First off, credit where credit’s due. Farhad-Sajid have actually made the least derogatory Housefull film yet.

That isn’t to say that Housefull 3 isn’t blatantly ableist, racist and sexist (in that order of severity) at various points. But compare it to the earlier Houses Full or even the more recent Milap Zaveri master-farce Mastizaade, and you’ll see that this film depends on physical comedy and goofy gags more than anything else, for its (sometimes truly funny) laughs. Who’d have thunk?
Love how Boman Irani’s Gujarati billionaire Batook is proud that his three daughters are sanskaari, because they pretend to sleep early and wear salwars (for precisely one scene in the film). He isn’t proud that one of them happens to be a doctor, another works with an organization for the differently-abled and a third does something at a wax museum (seriously). Nope. Betis are sanskaari because salwar. (Also, this writer takes personal affront at the insinuation that night owls lack appropriate sanskaars. You should meet me, Farhad bhai, Sajid bhai)

 Is Housefull 3 humourous or offensive? Heres what a feminist thought

Housefull 3. Image from Facebook.

Abhishek Bachchan (who’s still around?) plays a rapper in the film. And his signature rap begins with a chant of ‘teri maa-behen’. No. Just… no.
This one’s for the CBFC, affectionately called the ‘Censor Board’ in India, despite them having no constitutional authority to censor anything. Apparently, Abhishek’s aforementioned rap went through massive changes on the Board’s recommendation. That entailed changing a line that went ‘tere baap ka london’ to ‘teri izzat har koi lootay’. Yes, ‘everyone should rape you’ is more acceptable than a line that means literally nothing at all. Let that sink in.
In the Housefull 3 universe, white people get invited to parties, while black women serve them at these parties. Yup. Batook bhai has three black women as housemaids in his lavish London home, and they’re treated just the way housemaids in India are treated - horribly.

At one point, Batook’s daughters get three scoundrels drunk and pretend to get them into bed, only to trick them into having sex with these three housemaids instead. The three housemaids get pregnant by the morning. (You can’t make this stuff up even if you try.) In India, respect for people ends just about where their skin colour goes a shade darker than ‘wheatish’. (Admit it, you love that descriptor. As long as people aren’t darker than mummy’s perfectly roasted chapatis, we’re okay.)
Housefull 3 might finally have answered the question of what Lisa Haydon meant by ‘I don’t want to be a career feminist’. Basically, she’s okay standing around in a film doing nothing. That is all. For real. (If she’s making a ton of money doing it and it makes her happy, then more power to her.)
Nargis Fakhri, who seems the kind of person who’d kick a disrespectful guy in the nuts in real life, is sadly doing pretty much the same as Lisa Haydon in the film – merely standing by, looking pretty. Also, and this is fact, she is possibly the worst actor to grace our screens, ever. That nobody thinks they should seriously work hard on training her before actually casting her, shows us the textbook definition of ‘objectification’.
Believe it or not, the film actually tries to give a ‘respect women’ message. Jackie Shroff - who oozes so much swag, you’d think he had a glass of Old Spice daily as a child – plays a ruthless don, who nevertheless has principles; he won’t get into the flesh trade.

He also beats up gora goons who try to do chhed-chhaad with some women in London. Then, believe it or not, he goes on to berate the three Indian men present (our heroes Akshay, Abhishek and Riteish) for not stepping in despite being desi. Sigh. So much pressure, especially considering the Indian man’s stellar track record of respecting women. (“Thanks but no thanks,” you can almost hear the women say.)
If you want entertainment, just Akshay Kumar in the frame is more than enough. His idiotic, thoroughly inaccurate ‘split personality disorder’ does lead to some inane laughs, as you watch his two personalities literally have physical fights with each other.

In one scene, the ‘nice’ Akshay, named Sandy, doesn’t want to even kiss the girl before shaadi. His rambunctious alter-ego Sundi, on the other hand, can’t wait to get into bed with her. So, while Sandy sings ‘lalla lalla lori’, Sundi responds instantly with ‘doodh ki katori’ – except, while saying that, he looks at Jacqueline and makes the universal hand sign for breasts (and headlights, if you drive on Indian roads). It is crass, but Akshay’s timing is just impeccable. That’s how you pull off offensive humour, if you must.
The film is most derogatory to the differently-abled. Akshay, Abhishek and Riteish play three men who pretend to have different disabilities at various points in the film. The number of times the word ‘normal’ is used, to denote those who don’t have anything physically wrong with their bodies, is nauseating. ‘Tum teen normal ho,’ someone thunders when their lies are discovered. You won’t feel very normal in the stomach if you’re a sensitive person, I assure you.
Why does a piece that labels itself a feminist point of view talk about racism and ableism in a film, you ask? It’s because feminism is about equality. If you talk about equality for only one section of humankind, then that’s hypocrisy.

Feminism looks to instil respect that cuts across all genders, all sexualities, all races, all castes and all other labels that look to divide people. (Jokes apart, Lisa Haydon is young, and she’ll learn more about this as she lives life and goes through experiences. Until then, everyone can just back off and practice their own version of respect and equality.)

So, is Housefull 3 humorous or offensive? It's simple. You decide, just for yourself.

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Updated Date: Jun 08, 2016 14:51:49 IST