Team Tere Bin Laden: Dead Or Alive – director Abhishek Sharma, producer Pooja Shetty Deora, and actor Pradhuman Singh – speak to Box Office India about their upcoming spin-off to Tere Bin Laden.
Box Office India (BOI): How did you come up with the idea of the spin-off of Tere Bin Laden?
Abhishek Sharma (AS): I am really glad because you are the first person to call it a ‘spin-off’, not a ‘sequel’. When I was writing the first Tere Bin Laden, I was not thinking about continuing the story because you can’t really take it forward after Ali’s (Zafar) character is in America. When Osama (Bin Laden) died, there was this prominent journalist who wrote an article saying that since Bin Laden was dead, the chances of its sequel is dead too. I guess that was the starting point.
BOI: How did you bring in a zany feeling, a comic take and then add satire to a topic as serious as Osama bin Ladnen?
AS: I think my problem is, which Pooja here knows, that I don’t have a filter in my head. So when I am in a certain situation, I laugh and look at the funny side of it. So when I read the newspaper, every day, I tend to read between the lines to find what is funny. I think the creation of Osama Bin Laden and America’s war on terror is very funny, in a way. Someone once said that comedy comes from the things you see with your brain and tragedy comes from seeing things with your heart. I don’t see things with my heart, I just analyse them.
BOI: Pooja, as a producer, what made you back both films?
Pooja Shetty Deora (PSD): When I heard the one-liner of the first part in 2007, when Abhishek told me this is what he wanted to make, I thought it was absolutely ridiculous. But I also sat up in my chair and said this is fantastic provided we can cast someone who looks exactly like Osama Bin Laden and we are able to pull off that part of the film.
AS: (Cuts in) And, for the longest time, they pursued me to say yes to playing Osama in the film.
PSD: According to me, Abhishek is one of the finest creative minds I have encountered in a long time. At that time, obviously, we didn’t know this as he was making his first film. When I was looking at the screenplay and also at the way it was shot, I realised that it was a difficult film to make. But its success and the support we received from the people who saw the film encouraged us to make the second film.
BOI: Pradhuman, you are the most important link as you play Osama in both films. What were the challenges you faced and what was your reference point for the character?
Pradhuman Singh (PS): As they said, this whole thing started back in 2007, when I was working in Kolkata. Abhishek called me and said, ‘I am making a film, will you be interested in it?’ I asked him what I would have to do and if I would be assisting him. He said, ‘No, you have to act.’ I came to Mumbai and he showed me a video and said that this is what I want you to do, play Osama Bin Laden. I was, like, ‘No man, I don’t want to do this!’ I freaked out and said I was not going to be part of a biopic on Osama Bin Laden and that too in my first film, which would then become my last too! Abhishek narrated me a one-liner and told me that I have to play an Osama lookalike and that he was a poultry farmer from Pakistan. That is what got my attention and I thought it was very interesting. I think Vikram Gaikwad, the make-up artist did a fabulous job.
BOI: How different was your life after you played Osama?
PS: That’s a very good question. It was very different. I believe that in the film industry, you have to go through your share of struggles. I thought my struggling days would be over once Tere Bin Laden released and then, all of a sudden, this film came about and it was a massive hit. But that didn’t happen, to be honest, except the accolades that I received.