Movie Review – Tere Bin Laden: Dead Or Alive

February 26, 2016

Handout photo of “Tere Bin Laden: Dead Or Alive”

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Indian film-makers love Barack Obama. He appears in “My Name is Khan”, played by someone who looks almost nothing like him, and “Phas Gaye Re Obama” (“Obama, We Are Trapped”). But no Hindi film can come close to portraying the most powerful man in the world like Abhishek Sharma’s “Tere Bin Laden: Dead or Alive”. (The title is a bit of a pun. “Your Bin Laden: Dead or Alive,” though it plays off the Hindi/Urdu word “bin” to also mean “Without you Laden: Dead or Alive”.)

A sequel to his 2010 film, “Tere Bin Laden”, this film is a singularly unfunny farce that doesn’t even retain the honesty and goofiness of its original. The first 20 minutes of the film are a film within a film, and the story of how a newbie director (Sharma, played by Manish Paul) makes the first “Tere Bin Laden” film. The film catches the attention of the world, including Obama and Osama bin Laden. We learn that an aide of Osama’s was caught buying a DVD of the film in Abbottabad, where the real bin Laden was killed while in hiding.

Sharma must have watched too many bad westerns in the run-up to making his film because every American speaks in a terrible southern drawl, and the president (played by Iman Crosson) is called “Sonny”, and “young man”.

Unable to provide conclusive proof that the most-wanted man in the world is dead, the president dispatches CIA agent David (Sikander Kher in an atrocious accent) to find a lookalike and re-enact the killing.

Piyush Mishra is equally over-the-top as Khalili, a mercenary who wants to make money by proving that bin Laden is alive. Both parties zoom in on simpleton Paddi Singh (Pradhuman Singh), whom they spot in the film. What follows is chaos and confusion, and a complete disregard for the audience’s sensibilities.

The futility of making a film whose subject is not even alive is lost on Sharma. It doesn’t help that he doesn’t have a single competent actor on set. Sikander Kher as a snarling American agent who transforms into a bulbous Punjabi character is unbearable, and Mishra, an actor and musician of undeniable talent and creativity, pants and huffs his way throughout the film.

Paul is hyperactive and Singh seems to have run out of steam halfway through the film. In the only scene that makes sense, the director comes running to Paddi and says, “Osama is dead, this sequel cannot happen.” If only the producers had listened.

(Editing by Robert MacMillan; Follow Shilpa on Twitter @shilpajay and Robert @bobbymacReports. This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

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