Bin Laden movie spoof banned in Pakistan


A BOLLYWOOD comedy featuring a lookalike Osama bin Laden, that is generating a lot of curiosity among cinema-goers in India after its release yesterday, has been banned in neighbouring Pakistan.

Pakistani censors said the film ridiculed their society, was offensive to Muslims, portrayed bin Laden as a “coward and ridiculous”, contained vulgar language and could fan hostility among “fanatic and fundamentalist elements” in Pakistan.

Pakistani censor board vice-chairman Masood Elahi said there was no justification for the film’s release under the prevailing circumstances, a veiled reference to the proliferation of radicalism and terror strikes by Muslim insurgent groups in his country.

Tere Bin Laden(Without You, Laden) is a tongue-in-cheek comedy about an ambitious young news reporter from the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi who is desperate to migrate to the US in pursuit of the American dream but his application for a visa is repeatedly rejected.

When he comes across an Osama bin Laden lookalike, he hatches a scheme to produce a fake video of the al-Qaeda leader and sell it to local news channels as a scoop. But there are serious ramifications when the White House gets involved and dispatches an overzealous secret agent on his trail, resulting in a series of comic situations.

“We have seen a lot of serious films, but this was a subject which deserved a satire,” director Abhishek Sharma said. “It has dominated our psyche for so long that we need to see it in a funny way.”

Although the film is a situation comedy, Sharma said he had been careful about the authenticity of locations in Karachi, facts about bin Laden and the context of the story. “It is a farce but rooted in real issues,” Sharma said. He has appealed to the Pakistani authorities to review their decision.