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August 6, 2010

A lot of hot air, hardly worth banning in Pakistan By Fareeha Qayoom

A lot of hot air, hardly worth banning in Pakistan

By Fareeha Qayoom Tere Bin Laden


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


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


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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Fareeha Qayoom
Fareeha Qayoom
Publisher and editor-in-chief of and former print editions of The Knit-Xtyle Fashion Review (tkfr), a trade newsletter for the textile and apparel industry of Pakistan. In short, Publisher, editor, and a blogger. In addition, she has served as Managing Editor of MIT Technology Review Pakistan, print and web editions (2015-16). Total of 7 editions were published under her leadership by ITU, Punjab's first public technology university under the license of MIT Technology Review (USA). She has also managed Value Mag in the same capacity, a real estate and lifestyle magazine for Value TV - 2008-9. Published freelancer for The News on Sunday 1994-96. Fareeha has over 21 years of solid management experience – of managing brands (like Harley Davidson, Munsingwear, Chaps, Chaps Ralph Lauren etc.,), Retailers (like Target, Mervyns, Kohl's, Marks and Spencer etc.,), customers (VPs, Product Managers, Unit Managers, and Buyers), and products (apparel - woven, knits, men's, women's, children's, Print and online publishing units), projects, teams, and processes, information, content, and data, staff, vendors, and time. Versatile and adaptable with international exposure, communication and language skills (oral and written), and a consistent track record of achieving company targets and objectives, plus a MA in Political Science from Punjab University, a MSc in Economics from La Salle University, Louisiana, USA, and a BA in Economics from Kinnaird College for Women.


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    My Top 5 favorite videos on the net right now

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  2. Review: Tere Bin Laden
    Indo-Asian News Service
    Saturday, July 17, 2010

    Hear this. A small-time Pakistani reporter dreams of a bite from Big Apple. So what does he do? He sends a tape with an Osama lookalike threatening mayhem in the US.

    Tere Bin Laden is one of those whacked-out satires that sounds far funnier in theory than it finally is on screen… For no fault of the lead actor, one might add.

    Ali Zafar’s comic timing could put some of our desi Khans to shame. Ali is a young actor with considerable screen presence. What’s more, he seems to secrete a sharp sense of enjoyment when confronted by the outrageous.

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  3. Tere Bin Laden: A brilliant satire
    July 16, 2010 15:30 IST

    Sometimes one’s relationship with the movies gets a little strained. Week after week of watching the same item numbers, the snazzy European locations and stilted dialogues catering to the NRIs create a sense of fatigue and boredom. And the film buff almost makes a decision to take a breather and stay away for a while.

    But then comes a film like Tere Bin Laden and hope is rekindled all over again.

    Recently, we had My Name is Khan which dealt with the tragic aftermath of the 9/11 disaster for ordinary citizens, especially those belonging to the minority community. But debut director Abhishek Sharma’s Tere Bin Laden is a film which reveals how ordinary citizens wanting to reside in America must either give up on their ambitions or resort to drastic measures.

    Tere Bin Laden is, however, free of drama and emotion. It’s a satire about all those wanting to set foot on the promised land. And it works.

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  4. Tere Bin Laden
    Nikhat Kazmi, TNN, Jul 15, 2010, 09.32pm IST

    Movie Review: Now this one’s a real cornball. It maybe a shade amateur and have loads of rough edges to its canvas, if you compare it to a regular Bollywood comedy. But when it comes to content, the film scores above several of the recent laugh riots that may have done well at the box office, but definitely didn’t have an intelligent script to boast of. Tere Bin Laden has both: a smart script and some smart acting.

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  5. Ali Zafar returns to Bollywood
    After signing one of the lead roles in another Bollywood film starring Katrina Kaif and Imran Khan, is Ali Zafar moving to Mumbai?
    After the massive success of Tere Bin Laden, that marked Ali Zafar’s debut in Bollywood, Aditya Chopra of Yash Raj Films has signed the actor-singer for its upcoming project.
    Sharing the screen-space with the heartthrob will be Indian stars like Imran Khan, Katrina Kaif and Sussane Kapoor while another new face is yet to be finalised by the production house.

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  6. Breakthrough kid
    By Aamna Haider Isani
    Sunday, 24 Oct, 2010

    Travelling across Mumbai to Goregaon West in Film City, where Ali Zafar is shooting a video for his new album Jhoom, is like swimming through a sea of sludge. Hot, humid and crawling with traffic, it takes over an hour to get to the FM Studio where extras, dressed in saffron as saadhus (hurriedly puffing away on a smoke break), are the only giveaway that some sort of shooting is taking place inside the downtrodden shed.

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