Opening graphics take us around the world and into a fictitious land called Bangistan. Divided by a river, one side worships Islam and the other Hinduism. Both are led by liberal religious leaders (Tom Alter, Shiv Subramaniam) who aspire for a tolerant, understanding, and compassionate world. They surreptitiously communicate over Skype and plan to spread their message of peace at the imminent 13th World Religions Conference in Poland.

Simultaneously two fringe groups, one Hindu and the other Muslim, seeking increased popularity to establish themselves as brands, also target the conference. Both the Maa Ka Dal and Al Kaam Tamaam decide to send in suicide bombers to spread their message. On one side Hafiz Bin Ali (Riteish Deshmukh), a call centre worker with the alter ego Harold, is chosen for his long beard and ability to speak English. On the other side, Pravin Chaturvedi (Pulkit Samrat) chucks off his Hanuman costume and decides to channel his inner actor into the part of a suicide bomber. But before their transformation into terrorists is complete, Praveen and Hafiz must first learn the nuances and doctrines of the other side’s customs and religion.

In one of the more entertaining sequences in the rather pubescent film, we see the transformation of Deshmukh and Samrat. In another scene, the men cannot explain their own religions but accurately quote from the other’s holy text. The scene where they first encounter each other, while passing through customs in Poland, has its moments but, like much of this script (Karan Anshuman, Puneet Krishna and Sumit Purohit), the gag is taken too far till it loses all semblance of humour.

The duo soon becomes friends. They sing and dance with a waitress (Jacqueline Fernandez), whose only purpose seems to be to get them drunk on a scary looking blue drink, and eventually discover each other’s true identities and purpose in Krakow.

All this leads to a climax that incorporates all the tropes of a film offering lip service to its central theme of unity, peace and misunderstanding with a simplistic sermon straight out of dummies guide to secularism.

One of the cleverer send-ups is the casting of Kumud Mishra in a double role as the leader of both misinformed, misdirected, manipulative fringe groups. And while Deshmukh displays restraint, raising the bar for the otherwise mediocre performances, he does not find a worthy ally in Samrat who is clearly "acting" comic.

There was surely a good idea in Bangistan at some point but sadly Karan Anshuman’s directorial debut takes no risks. With over-designed sound, juvenile lyrics, obvious in-film references to other films and filmmakers and a weak lead actor in Samrat, the result is a film devoid of subtlety, layers and wit.