A lot of hot air, hardly worth banning in Pakistan
just finished watching the movie Tere Bin Laden – it’s supposed to be a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ comedy about the most notorious person in the world – Osama Bin Laden. I understand it flopped in India because the audiences didn’t find it funny; though, it broke even on its opening weekend and apparently, is a total commercial success because it is fairly low budget production and cost only 2 million dollars to make. Produced by Walkwater Media, the only well known star in the film is Ali Zafar, a celebrity in Pakistan, painter, actor, pop star and model with a neat fan following who plays the lead character in the movie – Ali Hassan a desperate-American-Visa-seeking-loser TV journalist who can only find work by filming poultry and hits jackpot when he launches fake Osama Bin Laden video.
Yes, it’s fairly low-budget, it shows, all the props used in the film are fairly ancient. The cars, the telephone sets, even the truck was a bit over the top, it felt too tall, maybe it was the camera angle? Plus, I didn’t know poultry farmers could afford huge transport trucks in Pakistan as their regular transport! They can afford medium sized pick ups but this was news to me. Zoya, the makeup artist in the movie dresses like someone in Bollywood. No makeup artist in Pakistan no matter how liberated would wear low-cut blouses as work-wear and shove her upper torso in the face of a conservative poultry farmer from the hills even if she lives in Karachi and she likes him, first of all, why would she like a rural type if she’s a city chick? She wouldn’t want to create the wrong impression on the guy, would she, even if he drives a truck? Undoubtedly it was a funny scene, especially Noora’s reaction to her cleavage. It reminded me of typical pious hypocritical types that abound Pakistan who like watching racy women on TV but won’t put up with them in their own country. Karachi, a fairly happening city looks like some slum; at least Danka TV is located in some slum apartment building. All the characters in the movie are pretty ridiculous or comic. The script is fine, the story line is fine; the acting is pretty good considering all of them are not well-known actors. The direction and editing is fine too…however, no effort has been made to stick to reality – the movie is over the top fantasy from start to finish, the only downside is the lack of sets, authentic locations and props used in the film — more money would have definitely come in handy here.
Yes, the Indian audiences are right — it’s not funny, it’s ridiculous. It’s like watching Mr Bean in action. It pokes fun at Pakistan, its people, its media, the Arabs and even the Americans. Yes, there is some vulgar language involved here and there but I don’t find anything very objectionable. I found it funny…but not funny in the ha-ha, barrels of laughs sense but funny in the entertaining sense. It does entertain. Yes, Hollywood has done a better job creating political satires in the past– I can even remember a parallel in “Wag the Dog” but that movie was a serious movie and therefore, funny. This movie doesn’t pretend to be an intellectual exercise nor does it pretend to leave the audience food for thought at the end of the show…it just pokes fun at the whole premise of Osama Bin Laden and the conflict in Afghanistan, the supportive role (front-line state in the war against terror status) of Pakistan and America’s neurosis after 9/11. It makes you laugh when you compare the reality with the parody.
I don’t know why it was banned in Pakistan – probably, the censor board was trying to help it along by creating enough controversy in Pakistan so that citizens at least make an effort to watch it for Ali Zafar’s sake. Or maybe because the censor board feels that since the terrorists don’t have any human feelings like a sense of humor, they might take it the wrong way and blast some more innocent people while they are at it, whatever, their real reasons, it’s hardly memorable and it doesn’t even pretend to be a serious political satire or comedy. The correct word to describe it would be parody. Parodies are usually entertaining and good fun. They shouldn’t be taken seriously nor should Tere Bin Laden. Enjoy and forget it. It’s no big deal. ■
Ali Zafar.….. Ali Hassan
Rahul Singh.….. Quereshi
Seema Bhargava.….. Shabbo
Barry John.….. Ted
Chirag Vohra Chinmay Mandlekar
Cinematography: Santosh Thundiyil
Music Director: Shankar Mahadevan, Ehsaan Noorani and Loy Mendonca
Lyricist: Jaideep Sahni, Ali Zafar, Dhruv Dhalla and Jaspreet Singh Background
Score: Dhruv Dhalla (music: Kukudu & Shor Sharaaba) Makeup Design: Vikram Gaikwad