Tere Bin Laden, the latest flick to deal with 9/11, takes a comical look at deep issues. Before you write this off as same old same old, debutant director Abhishek Sharma clears the air.
The very mention of 9/11 still conjures up images of destruction, smoke, chaos and tears. And which Bollywood filmmaker wouldn't use this as a backdrop for a commercial potboiler? The only hitch is that these directors seem to have woken up to the theme a tad late (“New York” was made eight years after the fall of the Twin Towers “Kurbaan” was released towards the end of 2009, and “My Name is Khan” hit theatres only this year).
The latest flick to deal with 9/11 is debutant director Abhishek Sharma's “Tere Bin Laden.” But before you write this off as same old same old, the director clears the air.
According to Abhishek, “Tere Bin Laden” is a tongue-in-cheek comedy about an ambitious young news reporter from Pakistan, Ali, who is waiting for a big break as he aspires to migrate to the US in pursuit of the American dream.
“In the light of the 9/11 attacks, his visa is always rejected. However, he comes across a farmer who resembles Osama Bin Laden. Ali then hatches a scheme to produce a fake Osama video and sell it to news channels as a scoop. Unfortunately there are serious ramifications as the White House gets involved and dispatches an overzealous secret agent on Ali's trail.”
Sharma conceptualised the storyline in a rather bizarre way.
“I had a severe headache one day and I'd tied a scarf around my head. When my wife saw me, she quipped that I looked like Osama Bin Laden. That got me thinking about doing a film revolving around this theme. I'd even read that many tapes have been recorded, which are possibly fake, so I decided to give the whole issue a light and satirical treatment.”
Stating that the film is not a satire on Jihad itself, Abhishek explains: “The film deals comically with issues like Islamophobia, the Big American Dream and the war against terror. Since Ali is neither a terrorist nor a racist, but someone who's neutral, it made perfect sense to throw light on these situations through his experience as a struggling journalist.”
For this project, the young director has worked with many new actors. “I didn't want to rope in established stars or people that are all too recognisable simply because the film wouldn't have the intended effect on the audience,” he pontificates.
Casting Osama was a challenge. “We auditioned innumerable people for the role. We needed someone who resembled him as well as someone who could act. So the process was tedious. Finally, I thought it was best to cast Pradhuman Singh. We had worked on our first play together seven years ago and he has always been good at mimicry. He has done justice to the role,” Abhishek states, relieved.
The film has been shot in different parts of India and the crew has attempted to get the locations, costume design and language as similar as possible to that in Karachi. “Authenticity is paramount,” asserts Abhishek who is hoping that Pakistanis will appreciate the hard work that has gone into the making of the film.
“Tere Bin Laden” is set for a worldwide release on July 16.