Crass, illogical, tacky, offensive: faithful fans of director Sajid Khan’s lucrative Bollywood comedies ('Himmatwala', the 'Housefull' movies) know what to expect from 'Humshakals'. Set largely in a Hindi-speaking London, we meet Ashok (Saif Ali Khan), a Lakshmi Mittal-type tycoon, and his best friend, Kumar (Ritesh Deshmukh), who spend their time singing silly songs outside the Royal Albert Hall. They drink some spiked water, which makes them behave like dogs, and are promptly committed to an asylum, which also houses their goofy doubles, and so they end up being mistaken for each other.
It sounds like a promising premise for slapstick. But Khan takes this far too literally: characters frequently slap each other and smear butter on each other faces for laughs. It's a shambolic film – essentially a series of fatally unfunny sequences randomly patched together. Expect awkward jokes about gays, bodily functions, the mentally ill, ethnic minorities, dwarves, the Holocaust. Everyone hams incessantly, with Saif Ali Khan and Desmukh equating pulling funny faces to comic acting. The three skimpily clad heroines have little to do, but at least they are not getting their bums pinched as in the director's previous hits. The saddest thing about this mess is that it is deliberately and gleefully vacuous.