Tag Archives: Tere Bin Laden

Movie Review: Tere Bin Laden – Dead or Alive (2016)

TereBinLadenDeadOrAlive2.5 Stars (out of 4)

The comedy sequel Tere Bin Laden: Dead or Alive starts out strong, but the story doesn’t have enough momentum to sustain laughs. Two films in this franchise are enough.

Tere Bin Laden: Dead or Alive (TBL 2, henceforth) begins in 2009. Manish Paul plays Abhishek Sharma, the real-life writer and director of both movies. Abhishek (the character) gets the greenlight to make his first film — Tere Bin Laden — after he spots Paddi Singh (Pradhuman Singh), a dead ringer for Osama Bin Laden. There’s a helpful refresher on the first film, which proved to be enough of a hit to merit a followup.

Shortly after production on the sequel begins, the real Bin Laden is assassinated by the United States. This puts the kibosh on Abhishek’s movie but not Paddi’s career as a lookalike. With no body or video proof of Bin Laden’s death, an inept terrorist organization in Pakistan wants Paddi so they can claim that Bin Laden is with them, alive and well. Meanwhile, the US wants to recreate the assassination, substituting video of Paddi’s murder as footage of Bin Laden’s death.

The early stages of TBL 2 are full of great bits. Ali Zafar — the star of Tere Bin Laden — appears in a funny cameo, playing an egomaniacal, womanizing version of himself. The Pakistani terror organization stages its own version of the Olympics, with games like the Bomb Relay and Landmine Jump. If you blow yourself up, you win!

The sharpest barbs are reserved for the Americans. Their drone control room is set up like an arcade, complete with coin-operated remote weapons. The “Chief of Invasions” is a man named David DoSomething, played by Sikander Kher in white-face makeup and a blond comb-over wig. Kher’s southern accent is deliberately hilarious.

In order to dupe Paddi and Abhishek, David dons brown-face makeup to pose as David Chadha, an NRI Hollywood producer. He quickly masters Hindi, though he mispronounces his last name as “cheddar.”

The movie acknowledges just how racist this is gambit is, with David consulting a makeup chart featuring a range of ethnically appropriate skin tones. When President Obama (Iman Crosson) sees David in his desi avatar, he quips, “I see you painted your white-ass face brown.” Considering that TBL 2 released on the same day as Gods of Egypt — a Hollywood film featuring no Egyptian actors — the digs seem deserved.

Though supporting characters like David, his female assistant Junior (Mya Uyeda), and President Obama are funny, they often feel better suited for a sketch comedy show rather than a feature film. There’s something missing from TBL 2 that causes it to slow down as soon as all of the characters are introduced.

One potential explanation that there’s no B-story in the plot. Elements such as Abhishek’s abandoned career as a confectioner and his fraught friendship with Paddi are introduced but don’t go anywhere. The story needs an anchor or emotional hook of some sort. Jokes aren’t enough.

TBL 2‘s strongest attribute is its subtitling and localization. It’s among the best I’ve ever seen in a Hindi film. For example, the Hindi word “jalebi” is translated as “churro,” substituting a piped, fried sweet popular in India for one popular in the U.S. Kudos to the TBL 2 translation team, the real stars of the film!


Movie Review: Tere Bin Laden (2010)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon

In the United States, it’s not especially fashionable to criticize the government’s (and military’s) response to terrorism, let alone to do so in an irreverent way. Tere Bin Laden (“Your Bin Laden”) fills that void, satirizing America’s penchant for preemptive military action.

Pakistani reporter Ali Hassan (Ali Zafar) wants to make it big in America. But, just days after 9/11, he’s mistaken for a terrorist and permanently banned from entering the U.S. He could sneak into the States under a false identity, but he can’t afford the fees a real terrorist outfit — “Lashkar-E-Amreeka,” whose headquarters have the slogan “Invading USA Since 2002” painted next to the front door — charge for the forged documents.

Seven years later, Ali’s stuck working at a low-budget TV station when he stumbles upon a chicken farmer who’s a dead ringer for Osama Bin Laden. With the help of two coworkers from the station, a militant radio host and an aspiring beautician, Ali tricks the chicken farmer into recording a fake Bin Laden terror video. Ali sells it for enough money to finally afford the forged documents.

Unfortunately, the video prompts the U.S. to close its borders and engage in new military operations in Afghanistan. It’s bad enough that Ali is stuck in Pakistan for good, but the U.S. intelligence service expands its hunt for Bin Laden to Pakistan, and soon enough, Ali is in their sights.

For the most part, the movie is a typical comedy about mistaken identities. But some of the jokes made at the expense of the U.S. are insightful and very funny. When a U.S. military commander presents the plans for a renewed offensive in Afghanistan, the plans are rendered as comic book panels, with American soldiers depicted as caped superheroes. Troops brag about capturing “Osama’s personal donkey.”

If you’re in the mood for juvenile humor, Tere Bin Laden certainly satisfies. Noora (Pradhuman Singh), the Osama lookalike, is a goldmine for comedy, given his profession as a raiser of roosters. There are more jokes about the male anatomy in Tere Bin Laden than in all of the 100+ Hindi movies I’ve seen combined.

The immature jokes hit a low point when Ali dons blackface makeup. And the goofy sound effects that permeate the movie are annoying, rather than funny. (The DVD menu features an irritating loop of a rooster crowing. Hit “play” as quickly as possible.)

This is Pakistani pop singer Ali Zafar’s first starring role, and he does an admirable job as Ali. He’s charming, effortless and completely adorable. The rest of the supporting cast is good as well, with a few notable exceptions.

The exceptions are the “American” characters. I use quotes because, almost across the board, the characters are played by Australians who can’t disguise their accents. Singh supposedly spent eight months training for Noora’s few lines of Arabic dialog, but there were no American actors available to play American parts?


Opening August 13: Peepli Live

This weekend’s new Hindi release is the black comedy, Peepli Live. Produced by Aamir Khan, Peepli Live satirizes the media’s response to the plight of poor farmers, some of whom resort to suicide to escape debt. The movie got a good response at a number of film festivals, including Sundance.

Peepli Live, which has a listed runtime of 1 hr. 46 min., opens in the Chicago area on Friday, August 13, 2010 in four theaters:

Other Hindi movies carrying over in theaters include Aisha at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30 and Cantera 30, Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai at the Golf Glen 5 and South Barrington 30 and Tere Bin Laden at the Golf Glen 5.

In addition to those current films, this week the Golf Glen 5 is featuring special showings of older Bollywood movies. The terrific lineup includes:

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include the Tamil movie Thillalangadi at Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove and Telugu flick Don Seenu at the Golf Glen 5, which features a special showing of the 1996 Tamil film Indian on Wednesday night.

Opening August 6: Aisha

The only new Hindi film releasing in theaters this weekend is Aisha, starring Sonam Kapoor and Abhay Deol. Aisha is a contemporary version of Jane Austen’s Emma — similar to the 1995 Hollywood film Clueless — set in high society Delhi.

Aisha opens on Friday, August 6, 2010 in the Chicago area at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 30 in Warrenville. The movie has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 6 min.

The comedy Tere Bin Laden finally makes its Chicago area debut after releasing internationally on July 16. It also opens on Friday at the Golf Glen 5.

Gangster flick Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai continues for a second week at the Golf Glen 5 and AMC South Barrington 30.

Other Indian movies showing around Chicago this weekend include Don Seenu (Telugu), Maryada Ramana (Telugu) and Oru Naal Varum (Malayalam) at the Golf Glen 5.

Opening July 23: Hotel Hollywood and Khatta Meetha

Two new Hindi movies will open in the Chicago area on Friday, July 23, 2010. The Akshay Kumar comedy Khatta Meetha gets the wider release, opening at four area theaters:

Khatta Meetha has a runtime of 2 hrs. 35 min.

Also opening on Friday is the supernatural thriller Hotel Hollywood, playing at the Golf Glen 5.

Sanjay Dutt starrer Lamhaa carries over for a second week at the Golf Glen 5. The romantic comedy I Hate Luv Storys, which has earned a total of $826,561 in U.S. theaters so far, gets fourth week at the South Barrington 30.

Last weekend, the satire Tere Bin Laden opened everywhere in the world except the United States. According to NDTV Movies, the filmmakers wanted to first gauge audience reactions to the movie in other countries, with hopes of a U.S. release several months later.

Other Indian movies showing around Chicago this weekend include Kutty Srank (Malayalam), Maryada Ramana (Telugu) and Sneha Geetham (Telugu) at the Golf Glen 5 and Thillalangadi (Tamil) at Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove.