Is there any point to a sequel for a movie whose central conceit – a television reporter using a lookalike of Osama Bin Laden for a fake scoop – has been made redundant by the death of the Al Qaeda chief?
Abhishek Sharma’s political satire Tere Bin Laden was released in 2010, a year before bin Laden was killed by American troops in Abbotabad in Pakistan. The logic of revisiting the characters from that sleeper hit is explained through a complicated meta plot. We meet Sharma (Manish Paul), modelled on the director, and follow his efforts to get a sequel greenlit by the original film’s producers (the sisters Aarti and Pooja Shetty as themselves). Sharma gets to work with the lookalike¸ Paddi Singh (Pradhuman Singh), but the follow-up is blown to bits by news that bin Laden has died.
Sharma is soon as jobless as Paddi, but fortunately for him (and unfortunately for the rest of us), the Americans, represented by a Barack Obama mimicry artist (Iman Crosson) and Central Intelligence Agency operative David (Sikander Kher), and an amateurish Pakistani terrorist group headed by Khalili (Piyush Mishra) want the spurious OBL back in action.
David wants to shoot a fake video showing bin Laden’s death with Paddi Singh so that Obama can provide evidence that the Abbotabad encounter did indeed take place, while Khalili and his cohorts want to show that the dreaded terrorist is alive. The director, meanwhile, is on a mission to prove that the sequel has a right to exist in the first place. It’s all too convoluted and contrived to make sense, and it would not have mattered if the humour was up to scratch and the political satire more sophisticated than in a college play.
Whether it’s a terrorist version of the Olympic Games featuring “grenade throws” and “landmine jumps” or David’s faux American accent, the sequel desperately strains for laughs. The original had its share of deliberately cheesy humour and endearing characters, but in their second outing, Paddi Singh and company (including Rahul Singh and Sugandha Garg) are simply not funny any more.
Paul gesticulates wildly and exposes the extremities of his eyeballs to convey his frustration, while Kher, in various guises, hams furiously. Pradhuman Singh is the sequel’s main draw, but since most of his dialogue is in Punjabi without subtitles, it might just fly over the head, just like the raison d’etre of this movie.