Review: ‘Tere bin Laden’

An ambitious Pakistani TV journo and an Osama bin Laden lookalike trigger an international ruckus in the mildly amusing Bollywood farce.

An ambitious Pakistani TV journo and an Osama bin Laden lookalike trigger an international ruckus in the mildly amusing Bollywood farce “Tere bin Laden.” Buoyed by peppy perfs, debut helmer Abhishek Sharma’s pacey crowdpleaser bowed respectably both domestically and offshore. Though much more controversial from a distance than for what’s actually on screen, pic’s premise and swipes at U.S. foreign policy could easily nix Stateside distribution. Pakistan’s censors banned “Tere,” thinking it might incite terrorism.

Desperate to live in America but refused immigration papers after 9/11, cable-channel employee Ali Hassan (handsome Pakistani pop star Ali Zafar, terrific) figures he needs to score a mega-scoop and fame will do the rest. Enter Noora (Pradhuman Singh), a chicken farmer who uncannily resembles bin Laden. With help from a feisty makeup expert, Zoya (Sugandha Garg), and a voice supplied by communist-leaning radio DJ Qureshi (Rahul Singh), “Osama” emerges in a tape, sparking global panic and U.S. military response. Slapstick shenanigans and caricatures of authority figures en route to a nifty “everyone wins” resolution are chucklesome enough, despite yawning plausibility gaps. Visuals are occasionally muddy; other work is passable.

Tere bin Laden

India

Production

A BSK Network & Entertainment release of a Walkwater Media production. (International sales: Walkwater, Mumbai.) Produced by Pooja Shetty Deora, Aarti Shetty. Executive producer, Marjorie Rodrigues. Directed, written by Abhishek Sharma.

Crew

Camera (color), Santosh Thundiyil; editor, Suresh Pai; music, Shankar Mahadevan, Ehsaan Noorani, Loy Mendonca; art director, Sunil Nigvekar; costume designer, Diksha Anand, Moitra. Reviewed at Hoyts Cinema Paris, Sydney, July 22, 2010. Running time: 108 MIN.

With

Ali Zafar, Pradhuman Singh, Sugandha Garg, Nikhil Ratnaparkhi, Piyush Mishra, Rahul Singh, Barry John. (Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, English, Arabic dialogue)

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