Before it’s sidetracked by a bizarre amnesiac-meets-hooker subplot, Total Siyapaa (Total Chaos) is a staid Hindi variation on Meet the Parents.
A London-set remake of Spanish romantic comedy Only Human, the movie is at least distinguished by its choice of subjects: Weirdly timid guitarist Aman (Ali Zafar) tries to impress the family of his milquetoast fiancée, Asha (Yami Gautam).
But Asha is Indian, and Aman is Pakistani, and her family is intolerant in an ostensibly comical fashion. Asha’s mom (Kiron Kher) hates Pakistanis, her granddad (Vishwa Badola) shot “Pakis” while in the Indian Army, and her brother, Manav (Anuj Pandit), can’t stand their noisy Pakistani neighbors.
That race-baiting hook never develops as the movie abandons it to focus on Aman’s frantic search for a pedestrian he accidentally brains with a block of frozen soup. This is especially strange since Total Siyapaa, like many Indian films, purports to be all about family. Asha’s family may love each other without question, but the filmmakers draw the line between “us” and “them” at “Pakistani.”
Manav stuffs bananas into his neighbor’s tailpipe in one scene, then gathers a posse to beat up his neighbor; he repeatedly rings his neighbor’s doorbell and runs away while his cricket-bat-wielding friends snicker.
This subplot concludes with a contrived meeting of the minds, but no amount of punch-pulling or lesson-learning can change the fact that Manav’s monotonous chest-puffing is supposed to be funny in a cute kind of way. You know you’re in trouble when a romantic comedy’s best scenes concern a soup-related head wound.