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Film review: Tere Bin Laden—Dead Or Alive

This sequel fumbles on all the fronts on which the original succeeded

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Six years ago, writer-director Abhishek Sharma made a satirical comedy called Tere Bin Laden. It was a clever spin on current affairs, as a TV reporter desperate to get to the US sniffs an opportunity when he spots an Osama bin Laden lookalike and hatches the audacious plan of making a threatening tape. The success of the 2010 venture obviously prompted this sequel, which opens in 2009, when bin Laden is still alive, and the US, under the leadership of Barack Obama (neatly aped by Iman Crosson), has tracked down its public enemy No.1 to Abbottabad. Osama is allegedly killed in an attack, but the Americans want proof. The CIA’s kingpin, David (Sikander Kher, who pulls off the wigs and the Southern drawl), is asked to execute the ruse.

Across continents, in Bollywood, a young film-maker, Sharma (the name is clearly no coincidence), played by Manish Paul, armed with a diploma from DUFER University, is looking for his first break. He gets it when he constructs a film around the Osama bin Laden lookalike Paddi Singh (Pradhuman Singh). You can see where this is headed—two worlds are set to collide on a phoney film set. The US wants to fake a tape showing the death of bin Laden. The young film-maker wants to go to Hollywood. There is also some random fringe militant group trying to manipulate the confusion.

Like many such spoofs, the premise of Sharma’s script is built on the stupidity of its protagonists and the even lower IQ of the supporting cast, specifically a Gujarati-speaking writer (Chirag Vohra), a make-up artist and “method actor" (Sugandha Garg), a mimic (Rahul Singh) and the militant leader (Piyush Mishra). If the original scored for the performances, humorous script and energetic direction, this revisitation fumbles on all these fronts. The jokes are desperate, the performances so hammy they hurt, and the meta device overused to the point of misplaced self-congratulation, since this story was obviously dead on arrival.

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