Meet the New Bin Laden
‘Osama Bin Laden’ is one of the most widely used names in the contemporary world. Before 9/11 his face was familiar to me because of his status as a hero in many Muslims countries, but I was least interested in knowing more about this thin faced, bearded man. After 9/11 where many people indulged in the study of Islam, several took to Bin Laden’s biographies to have in depth information about him. I also resorted to his interviews and books about him written by the local and foreign journalists.
Osama Bin Laden is a true example of hero becoming zero in no time for America. Post 9/11 being the most pursued person every time his video messages would appear the news channels would painstakingly analyze his demeanor and every word parted from his lips. As his video and audio messages kept pouring in the mainstream news media many began to question the authenticity of those tapes. Those of you who have watched a 1997 comedy flick, ‘Wag the Dog’ would understand how these fake video tapes are created by the state agencies for achieving their own hideous interests when required.
Talking of movies, who would have thought that a debutant director Abhishek Sharma would come up with an idea of faking Bin Laden so convincingly? ‘Tere Bin Laden’ is about a struggling TV journalist, Ali Hasan, of disreputable channel called Danka TV based in Karachi. Ali dreams of going to US and reporting for the prestigious news agencies but in the aftermath of 9/11 and due to America’s strict visa policy his visa application keeps rejecting.
Then one day while covering the bizarre contest of the crowing of roosters in an interior Sindh he comes across a Bin Laden look alike. In dire need of money, Ali comes up with a sinister idea of making a fake Bin Laden video message. The world gets the new menacing video tape of Bin Laden but it also accelerates bombing in Afghanistan. Upon realizing his mistake Ali tries to undo the harm by creating another video message in which Bin Laden offers peace to President Bush.
The synopsis might look simple but the movie has countless side-splittingly funny moments. You can’t predict the next scene which is the sign of an engaging plot. Ali Zafar gave a confident and enjoyable performance. But the show stellar in my view was ‘Noora’ – the better, the adorable and the new Bin Laden – played by Pradhuman Singh. It is impossible not to like him or crack up on his dialogues. If it was not for his performance, the movie would have fallen flat. The Karachi shown in the movie looks authentic to a great extent but a Punjabi speaking ‘Noora’ based in interior Sindh leaves a room for explanation.
‘Tere Bin Laden’ falls in the genre of black comedy like the best known movie ‘Dr. Strangelove’. One doesn’t find sense in such movies as those are made for pure entertainment. It is pity that ‘Tere Bin Laden’ has been banned in Pakistan. The movie doesn’t hurt anyone’s sensitivities per se and it could have been released with a changed title. It would have been great to see Ali Zafar’s first Indian movie in theaters. This movie features a Pakistani artist in the full length leading role. It was also the first Indian movie whose entire story and characters are based in Pakistan. However, on the other hand, I feel the screening of this movie could have invited unwanted attention of militants and terrorists. The indoctrinated suicide bombers wouldn’t take time to watch the movie first and then decide whether to bomb a movie theater or not. They’ll take it as a movie burlesquing their leader. Pakistan’s banning the movie feels harsh but in the end we would consider it as a commendable step in the interest of common people because in today’s Pakistan when it comes to maniac bombers, the more caution is exhibited the better it is.
Edited version on: The Express Tribune ~ Laughing it up with Bin Laden