It’s disheartening and deeply dissatisfying to watch a romantic comedy that starts on a promising note and deteriorates into a glorious, incoherent mess.
Total Siyapaa, led by Ali Zafar and Yami Gautam, falls prey to the Bollywood curse of the second half. In this farcical comedy set in London, we are introduced to an Indian TV presenter (Gautam) who’s excited about the prospect of her Pakistani boyfriend Aman meeting her traditional Punjabi parents for the first time.
Asha is not big on confrontations and so she conveniently hides some important background details from her domineering mum (played superbly by Kirron Kher). He’s from a different faith, she warns her mother. But, history has taught us that no good comes out of concealing facts from your mother, especially a detail that has Indo-Pak strains.
She lives to regret it, since her family is a household-gone-cuckoo. There’s Asha’s sexually liberated elder sister (somebody please tell her it’s not OK to play footsie with your sister’s boyfriend), there’s a blind granddad (an ex-army guy walking with a loaded rifle), her naughty seven-year-old niece who plays games that are inappropriate for her age (somebody please tell her it’s not OK to cart around a fake pregnant belly) and a brother who’s openly racist towards his Pakistani neighbours. But who said it’s an ideal world? The affable Aman forges ahead in his attempt to win over his exacting in-laws. The first half is filled with sharp dialogue and genuinely funny situations. The film should have ideally ended after its first hour, because its second half goes on an entirely different tangent that doesn’t tie in with the film.
In the midst of impressing his mother-in-law, Aman knocks over a tub of frozen pea soup from the window onto the street. The tub flies out of the window and knocks out a pedestrian cold. And as luck would have it, the injured stranger is his future father-in-law (Anupam Kher). From then on, the story falters. Legendary actor Kher delivers an over-the-top performance that makes you question his calibre. The scene in which he wanders off from the hospital disoriented with a concussion in his head and hooks up with a prostitute is far from funny.
Total Siyapaa was intended as a comedy of errors, but there were too many subtexts and characters crowding the second half. While the film managed to tick all the offensive stereotype jokes, the long-winded second half scratches out their efforts. Watch this only if you are a total fan of Zafar, Gautam and the Khers.