Tere Bin Laden is one of those whacked-out satires that sound far funnier in theory than it finally is on screen. For no fault of the lead actor, one might add. Ali Zafar's comic timing could put some of our desi Khans to shame. Ali is a young actor with considerable screen presence. What's more he seems to secrete a sharp sense of enjoyment when confronted by the outrageous which he projects outwards with a missile-like aim that sometimes misses its target.
This is high-wit low-budget comedy, and it shows. The gags and one-liners involving the preparation to put the fake Osama in the line of fire are pungent parody in principle. But the films meagre budget muffles the mirth. Finally it's all about placing cameras in front of world maps rather than going out there to capture those parts of the world that the satire takes into its tongue-in-cheek sweep.
There are some stinging swipes taken at the Americanization of the Asian dream, and the craze for young urbanites in this part of the world to make good their escape at any cost. Debutant director Abhishek Sharma never loses hold of the satirical mould. The sense of fun is uppermost in the script, though quite frequently the humour gets derailed by studio-induced props worthy more of a television sitcom on burger-mania rather than a film whose satirical take on terrorism touches the nerve-centres of our very existence.
That Sharma is actually able to pull off a parody that combines poultry jokes with globally-significant comments, is no small achievement. Luckily the humour eschews vulgarity except for one inter-lewd where a man in a burqa tells another guy, "I may be in a Burqa but otherwise I have the same things that you do."
Ahem ahem. Happily the same is not valid for the satire. Under the outer skin it is different from what we see as satire.
The actors are in the mood for some serious fun here. While Ali Zafar sparkles in the embrace of the script's feisty wit, Pradhuman Singh as an Osama look-alike too seems to have fun biting the bait. His scenes with a beautician (Sugandha Garg) who touches up his face are deliciously suggestive.
While Tere Bin Laden is many notches above the run-of-the-mill satire, as a spectral swipe at Osama-phobia, Bush-bashing and global terrorism this one doesn't quite make the cut.