A lot of hot air, hardly worth ban­ning in Pak­istan

By Fareeha Qay­oom Tere Bin Laden

I

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. ■

tere bin laden 2

Cast

Ali Zafar.….. Ali Has­san

Prad­hu­man Singh.…..Noora

Sugandha Garg.…..Zoya

Nikhil Ratnaparkhi.…..Gul

Piyush Mishra.…..Majeed

Rahul Singh.….. Quereshi

Seema Bhar­gava.….. Shabbo

Barry John.….. Ted

Chi­rag Vohra Chin­may Man­dlekar

Crew

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




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Movie Review: Tere Bin Laden , 9.0 out of 10 based on 3 rat­ings