South Asia

Pakistan bans India Osama Bin Laden comedy

Tere Bin Laden
Image caption The film has a "fake" Bin Laden

Pakistan has banned an Indian comedy called Tere Bin Laden (Without You Laden), about a lookalike of Osama Bin Laden.

The country's film censor board has objected to the way the movie portrays Bin Laden and warned that it could trigger a "terrorist attack".

The film was due to have been released in Pakistan on Friday.

Its main distributor told the BBC that an appeal has been filed against Thursday's decision.

In a statement the film board said that Tere Bin Laden was "unsuitable for public exhibition".

They said it was a "controversial subject which depicted the character of Osama Bin Laden in a comic way... and contains vulgar and objectionable dialogue, abuses and derogatory remarks".

The board said that the film also "portrayed a bad and negative image of law enforcing agencies of the country".

Touchy subject

Correspondents say that it is not unprecedented for Pakistan to ban films, especially if they are linked to India - Islamabad's longtime regional arch rival.

But the impact of such censorship is likely to be limited, correspondents say, because DVDs are the most common means of watching movies in the country and pirated ones are easily secured.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan says that although the announcement of the ban was unexpected, it was not altogether surprising as the country's government remains touchy on the subject of Bin Laden.

His current whereabouts are unknown, with some US officials maintaining that the world's most wanted man is hiding in Pakistan.

The main distributor for the film, Nadeem Mandviwala, told the BBC that the the ministry of culture will announce its decision against the appeal on Friday.

"I find it quite disturbing that we cannot portray Osama Bin Laden and the law enforcement agencies," Mr Mandviwala told the BBC.

"It's acceptable that we make comedies about the president and prime minister all the time, but not Osama."

Indian films are popular in Pakistan, though only some make it to the big screens.

Tere Bin Laden is about a struggling Pakistani journalist who tries to sell an interview of a fake Bin Laden as a scoop who wants to move to the US to fulfil his American dream.

When he comes across a person who looks like Osama, he decides to sell his interview as a scoop to the international media, which results in a series of goof-ups.

Though the film is a comedy, the director says they have been careful about the authenticity of locations in Karachi, facts about Osama Bin Laden and the context of the story.

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