Reliance Entertainment, & Pictures, AKA Pictures Company and Friday Filmworks Production’s Total Siyapaa (UA) is a comedy about a Pakistani boy and an Indian Hindu girl. Aman Ali (Ali Zafar) and Asha Singh (Yaami Gautam), living in London, are in love with one another. Asha decides to introduce Aman to her family which doesn’t know that he is a Pakistani. Somehow, everything goes wrong that day.
For one, before Aman can meet the family, he is arrested by an over-enthusiastic police officer who mistakes him for a terrorist. Released within minutes, Aman pleads with Asha to abort the plan of introducing him to her family as the day doesn’t seem to be propitious, but Asha is insistent.
Within minutes of being introduced to Asha’s mother (Kiron Kher), Aman realises how intolerant the family is towards Pakistanis. Even while he is trying to come to terms with the family, he is asked by Asha’s mother to defrost the soup. Inadvertently, the huge plastic container with the frosted soup goes flying out of the kitchen window and hits the head of a man passing by. To Aman’s horror, he sees that after being hit, the man is lying motionless next to the plastic container. Is he dead or has he fainted? And who is he?
Asha telephones the ambulance service, which sends an ambulance to take the man lying on the road right under her kitchen window, to hospital. But Aman, who sees the photographs of Asha’s father, Rajinder Singh (Anupam Kher), in her house, realises that the man hit by the plastic container could have been him. A frantic search for Asha’s father begins. Aman, Asha, her mother and sister, Jia (Sara Khan), who has left her husband’s home after a fight, set out to look for Asha’s father. Even while the search is on, Jia’s little daughter, Anjali (baby Arshpreet Kaur), telephones them to inform that Daddu (Vishwa Mohan Badola), Jia and Asha’s grandfather, has breathed his last.
What happens finally? Is the family successful in locating Rajinder Singh? Was he the one who was hit by the plastic container and consequently taken to hospital by the ambulance service? Or, as suspected by the family, was he with his girlfriend? Does Asha’s family approve of Aman as her life partner?
The film, based on Spanish film Seres Queridos, is written by Neeraj Pandey. Although designed as a comedy, the scenes and sequences are far from hilarious or even remotely funny at most of the places. In fact, it is because the comedy, almost every time, falls flat on its face that the concerted effort to make the audiences laugh in every scene, or rather in every single shot, gets on their nerves and irritates them.
Since the film is about one day, and most of it, one night, it gets monotonous after a point of time as the costumes and the set and settings remain the same. Also, since a major part of the drama is restricted indoors (in Asha’s house), the monotony sets in quite fast. Neeraj Pandey’s screenplay is so laboured that the humour just does not come across most of the times. The track of Rajinder Singh tests the audience’s patience because it is intended to be comical but the fun element is terribly kiddish. The comedy track of Daddu is also tame and extremely boring. Ditto for the comic track of little Anjali.
The drama rests on several contrived incidents. For instance, Asha telephones the ambulance service from a public telephone booth right opposite the building in which she lives but does not care to take a look at the person lying face-down on the road right beneath her kitchen window. The hatred of Asha’s family for any and every Pakistani also looks too forced. Even the funny dialogues, penned by Neeraj Pandey, lose their impact to a large extent because of the supremely dull screenplay. Climax is very weak – like the rest of the film.
Ali Zafar does fairly well but is unable to rise above the poor script. Yaami Gautam is quite good but again, she is let down by the dull scenes. Kiron Kher acts ably and does try to evoke laughter with her loud acting. Anupam Kher has an irritating role and is unable to add anything to the character of Rajinder Singh. Sara Khan is natural as Jia Singh. Baby Arshpreet Kaur lends ordinary support. Anuj Pandit Sharma passes muster in the role of Manav Singh. Vishwa Mohan Badola fails to impress as Daddu and actually ends up getting on the audience’s nerves. Sagar Arya is an expressionless wonder, going through the role of Jia’s estranged husband mechanically and, if one may add, lifelessly! Doug Devaney (as James), Max Newitt (as James’ son), Steve Keefe (as Percy), Jasbir Rishi (as Bunty), Goldy (as Babloo), Alyan Abbas, Anil Meisuria and Nabil Nejat (all three as Pakistanis), Brooke Dalby (as Angela), Chole Wade (as Fe), Thomas Christian (as the pimp), Adnan Kapadia (as the florist), Philip Higgs (as the security guard), Tim Barton (as the male office colleague of Rajinder Singh), Emily Outred (as the female office colleague of Rajinder Singh) and the rest provide average support.
Eshvar Niwas’ direction leaves a lot to be desired. He is unable to make the film the laugh-riot it was meant to be. Ali Zafar’s music is ordinary. The ‘Siyapaa’, ‘Palat meri jaan’ and ‘Nahin maloom’ songs are okay. Lyrics (Ali Zafar, Kumaar, Aqeel Rubi, Astai and Baba Bulley Shah) are okay. Umesh Jadhav and Ganesh Acharya’s choreography is functional. David Meadows and Pratap Rout’s camerawork is nothing to shout about. Chris Lowe’s sets are okay. Sanjoy Salil Chowdhury’s background music is truly weak, rarely, if ever, heightening the impact of the feeble comedy. Seon Rogers’ action and stunts are okay. Shree Narayan Singh’s editing is average.
On the whole, Total Siyapaa is a terribly poor show all the way. It will meet with a disastrous fate at the box-office and may find it difficult to complete even a week’s run at many cine mas. Total loss!