Really, I still miss my 3 cm nail file that got confiscated at a Canadian airport a couple of years ago...
But my personal experiences aside, the movie only gets better from there, and as they say, no cow is too holy for this film. The story in a nutshell is about Ali Hassan, a Pakistani yuppie, who tries to scam his way into the US in the post 9/11 world without much success. However the Gods seem to finally smile upon him when he discovers an Osama Bin Laden look-a-like whom he uses to make a video proving that Osama is alive and well (and even has access to health care since he has obviously done Botox, as one of the characters quickly points out). Surely the TV channels will pay millions for this video, but will that be enough to
In an hour and a half, the film packs an impressive amount of digs at the American paranoia and imperialism, the Indian/Pakistani "grass is always greener on the other side" mentality, the media's inanity, Communism, and even at the current craze for overpriced, overhyped and underperforming organic products that a developing country would produce naturally for a fraction of the cost (one of the best lines in the film if you ask me).
It's interesting to note that in order to coherently go in so many directions without being overbearing, the film uses both the foreground and the background very efficiently throughout. And for heaven's sake, don't disregard your peripheral vision either because those eye muscles will get a good workout too. There's always something going on in every corner of the screen, but somehow it's not tiring at all, if anything it just gives you a reason to look forward to the next watching. Granted, some of the jokes fizzle a bit on the second watching, but I for one appreciated the opportunity to focus on the lovely performances the second time around.
Funnily enough, observing (and taking advantage of) the most obnoxious mentality changes seen after 9/11 doesn't do anything to deter Ali from his dream. The biggest and perhaps most subtle irony of the film is that he begins by using the Pakistanis' weaknesses but ends up taking full advantage of everything that is not desirable from the American psyche, all the while not stopping to think for a second if he really wants to live in the very society whose xenophobia and shortsightedness keeps interfering with his plans. But I don't think we're meant to think about whether or not Ali will be happy in the US, especially since this is what his American dream looks like.
The movie is built on several levels which helps it stay interesting for various types of viewers. I'm sure every time I watch it going forward I'll notice yet another detail that will make me laugh hysterically. The reason why it works for me where other slapstick movies or satires do not work, is because it blends both. Just when you're getting into the subtleties of the script and admiring the elegance of a situation that mercilessly mocks everyone without even a hint of crassness, you get hit by a "Men in Black" type scene where it's virtually impossible not to laugh at the CIA sync-chewing on carrots while interrogating the suspect. But don't give your brain a break just yet because you may have to quickly call on it again for a dollop of brilliantly penned sarcasm. I can see this film being enjoyed thoroughly with your brain in OFF mode, but also in ON mode.
Typically I would have Dolce and Namak talk about their likes and dislikes, but since they were both falling off the couch laughing, I can't really do that today. But I will tell you what amused and charmed each of them the most:
Dolce: the Nagin dance
Namak: the Men in Black spoof
Dolce: the delightfully retro savings accounts.
|Bank Account Number 1|
|Bank Account Number 2|
|Bank Account Number 3|
Namak: the reference to a brilliant line from The Shawshank Redemption, an all-time favourite.
Dolce: Ali Zafar
Namak: Operation Kickass!
Ok, I give up, I'll just screencap the whole movie if I keep this up. But I will mention one more scene that had me hugging my knees in a futile attempt to prevent my abs from getting torn by laughter, and it's the scene where the Pakistani cop realizes that there is no good reason to bomb Afghanistan, which as it turns out, doesn't seem to phase the American investigator. A priceless dialogue, and so right in so many ways!
By the way, wherever they found this guy (Barry John), they struck gold. He is... PERFECT! Can you tell he has a hilarious accent from the screencap above? Because I tell you, he does!
And did you know the Americans have missiles that can take out the entire first floor of a building without moving even a glass of water on the second? Well, if you didn't, you'd better watch this film because one of them even gets launched in what was the other greatest moment of the film for me.
As an aside, I've actually missed Shankar Ehsaan and Loy lately, so I was very happy to get such a fun soundtrack from them, especially in a film where I wasn't expecting any memorable songs. Of course, it helps that Ali Zafar is actually a well-known Pakistani pop star and can sing his own songs!
Aye haye, I'm floored! Can we see more of him in the future, please?
Truly, an hour and half of all kinds of fun, which makes this one of my favourite movies of the year and definitely the best satire in a long time. Sorry Peepli [Live], but where you were callous and caustic, Tere Bin Laden was light and witty, which works infinitely better for me in the context of a satire.