TERE BIN LADEN
The recent global economic recession, or slowdown, as some of the purists might like to call it has taken a toll of several well known names in all sectors of commerce and industry. One such industry has been the airline industry which has seen traffic plunging, both domestic and international. This has violently affected the fortunes of all the major large players: players who talked big, had luxury offerings in the air, and who continued to fly right in the heart of the turbulence without learning lessons. On the contrast front, we saw the fortunes of a particular breed of operators, who actually performed better than their better endowed cousins. This breed is the breed of what we commonly address as low cost airlines. Some call them as the no-frill airlines and a few others less eulogizing names for those operators. But the fact remains that they have been able to transport millions of passengers, assuring them of nothing but what the passenger requires in the first place, which is to get from one place to another in a safe manner.
This analogy works remarkably well in films too and we have been seeing a host of Bollywood productions in various genres fitting this formula well. These movies have no well known names in their credits; are shot in glam-free locations or sparse studio sets; reasonably short in length; have no distractions other than the central theme and therefore reach the message very well and generate huge returns on the extremely modest investments. Nagesh Kukunoor’s Hyderabad Blues was one of the first movies in this genre; Bheja Fry and Aloo Chaat are examples of more recent origin.
TERE BIN LADEN is an outstanding example of this genre: I am not saying that this movie is outstanding! But it is a remarkable effort by debutante director Abhishek Sharma, who has also written the story. It has an absolutely novel storyline; the humour is tongue-in-cheek, the pace of storytelling is brisk and is an excellent mix of satirical farce and farcical satire. The theme is a hearty take on America’s obsession with Laden and the series of misadventures in Pakistan, where the film is based. I am not surprised that Pakistan has banned this film and if it is shown in the US, then it demonstrates that Americans have not lost the ability to laugh at themselves.
The movie has been shot on a shoe-string budget, but manages to retain the faint elements of realism required for it to rise beyond the level of a mere spoof. Ali Zafar, the Pakistani pop star who plays the lead role of the journalist who desperately wants to visit the US does a commendable job; he also sings a number and has also penned the lyrics for one or two songs. The rest of the cast also do justice to their roles, but despite that one cannot but help feel the rough edges of the amateur treatment showing up now and then. The only known name in the credit list is the music composer trio of Shankar Ehsaan Loy; but it is so insipid that it could be easily mistaken for music by anyone called Hankar Saan Oy!
Watch the movie for its fresh and foolish fun: you will not regret it!