Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 12pm

#UKAsianReview: 'Total Siyapaa'

Ali Zafar, the Pakistan-born star of 'Total Siyapaa', has been scrambling in the last few days to appease hordes of Shahid Afridi fans in light of an apparently offensive joke in the movie about the beloved cricketer.

It strikes me as futile given that Zafar should really be spending his time looking for a rather large rock to hide under because his new release is weighed down by considerably more than a passing - in fact, rather appropriate - joke about "Boom Boom Afridi".

Zafar plays Aman, a London-based Pakistani musician who is dating Indian journalist Aisha (Yami Gautam).  They've been dating for a while and it's time for Aman to meet Aisha's family. 

On the day however, Aman is arrested on suspicion of being a terrorist, with the mighty Metropolitan Police swooping in on the basis of a tip off by a police officer who, bizarrely, imitates Mr Bean.

After his release, Aman is reluctant to meet his future in-laws but after much convincing by Aisha - who takes him shopping for a new outfit - he agrees.

Cue a movie that makes 'Dabangg' look like 'True Detective'.

Aisha's mother is an overbearing Muslim/Pakistan-bashing Punjabi.  Aisha's brother is a loudmouthed Muslim/Pakistan-bashing Punjabi.  Aisha's sister is a flirtatious Punjabi who's got her eye on the handsome Aman the moment he walks in.

Oh and Aisha's grandfather is a blind former Army general who keeps a loaded gun in his study.

Not surprisingly, things start to get out of hand very quickly. 

There's a container of frozen food, there's a terrifically unfunny encounter between the granddad and Aman in the toilet, a man gets knocked out in the street, there's a fight involving some neighbours, Aisha's father (Anupam Kher) makes an appearance sans his trousers, as does the Mr Bean imitator and a £60-a-time prostitute.

Oh and there's an almighty row between Aman and Asha about the current, most fashionable Indo-Pakistani stereotypes and the historical, social and cultural relationship between the two countries.  In the toilet.

There are a couple of funny moments in the film, including one involving a Tipex pen and a great gag about Punjabis and soup.  And Anupam Kher as the bewildered dad is a joy to watch but it's never entirely certain whether his bewilderment is a result of his character's predicament or that he's found himself in this utterly ludicrous film. 

'Total Siyapaa' is a loose adaptation of an excellent and hilarious Spanish film about the cultural clash that erupts when a Palestinian Muslim boy meets his Jewish girlfriend's family. 

The premise could have worked here as well given the cynicism that underpins the India-Pakistan relationship. 

Writer Neeraj Pandey however, seems too afraid to explore anything meaningful or marginally funny and crams his script with an array of superficial cliches, stereotypes and a load of pointless, offensive and rather unfunny gags.

It's really surprising that Pandey is the same man behind the outstanding 'A Wednesday' and last year's 'Special 26': both films were smart thrillers that kept the audience constantly guessing.

'Total Siyappa' doesn't leave you guessing but bemused and, to be honest, slightly insulted.

It is astonishing that an intelligent group of people like the Kher's, Zafar, Gautam, Pandey and director Eeshwar Niwas would concoct something like this and expect people to pay ten quid to watch it.

Best bet that tenner on 'Total Siyapaa' to clean up at the 2015 Golden Kelas.

- 'Total Siyapaa' is in cinemas now



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