August Issue 2010
Looney bin Laden
9/11 spawned an entire genre of movies related to that fateful September day in virtually every corner of the world. Bollywood produced New York, Kurbani, My Name is Khan and many more — all serious in nature. But its latest take on September 11 is devised as a satirical comedy and stars a Pakistani pop icon, Ali Zafar in the lead role.
Ali Hasan (Ali Zafar) is a reporter for a Karachi-based news channel, Danka, but has an unyielding desire to migrate to the US, where he wants to live out the American dream. He has already been deported once and denied visas several times, and as a last resort, Ali turns to a travel agency that promises him his golden ticket at a hefty price that he cannot afford to pay. Resigned to his ill fate by now, he takes his next assignment from his cranky boss (Priyush Mishra), where he spots a bin Laden doppelganger by the name of Noora (Pradhuman Singh). He sees Noora as his ticket to the US; without wasting a minute, Ali hatches a scheme to make a fake bin Laden video to sell to his news agency, make big bucks and head for the US. He hires the services of a make-up artist (Sugandha Garg), an Arabic scriptwriter (Chirag Vohra), a dubbing artist (Rahul Singh) and a cameraman (Nikhil Ratnaparkhi) to execute his plan. Surprisingly, the video does get made and sells for a grand amount. However, the plan backfires.
As a result of Osama’s menacing reappearance, America revises its immigration policy once again and restricts Pakistanis from entering the country. Ali’s plans of migrating are thwarted yet again — and that’s not all. An American intelligence officer (Barry John) arrives in Pakistan to trace Osama’s whereabouts. Distressed about the situation, Ali quickly hatches a new plan to do some damage control.
The sensitive theme of Tere Bin Laden could have easily irked the West if it were not handled with care. But writer/director Abishek Sharma flawlessly manages to dodge the heavy-duty stuff in a manner that not once does the viewer feel uncomfortable or awkward watching the movie. On the contrary, the humour is rather enjoyable and very candid — unlike the over-the-top humour we have come to expect of Bollywood movies. Content aside, Tere Bin Laden’s main attraction is Pakistani singer Ali Zafar, who plays the central character with aplomb. He is easy on the eye, has good comic timing and is supremely confident for a first timer.
It is unfortunate that this movie has been banned in Pakistan, the reason being it could step on certain toes (whose — Osama’s or his supporters?) and endanger the lives of the viewers. We sure know how to pander to terrorist tastes. Tere Bin Laden is not designed to offend anyone. It’s designed as a satirical comedy, and a few flaws aside, it provides some good, clean entertainment.