While Motwane is in the news for being one of the fortunate few to have a screening of his debut film Udaan at the ‘Un Certain Regard’ category of the Cannes Film Festival, Sharma has been grabbing headlines for the title of his film Tere Bin Laden. Apparently, or so say rumour mills, he has even received threat calls from Osama Bin Laden’s son for making a satire on terrorism and using his father’s name inappropriately!
While Udaan deals with kids who are sent to boarding school by their parents, Tere Bin Laden is a satire on terrorism. But isn’t terrorism too serious a topic to make a satire? Says Sharma, “I have a different perspective. I feel it is important to learn to laugh at our problems.”
Sharma goes on to explain why this makes business sense as well, “All of us have so many problems in our life. Therefore, we yearn to watch fun-filled films, but not the typical Bollywood potboilers. Today’s viewers want something fresh, which is what I have tried to give them through Tere Bin Laden.”
Apparently, the young director always wanted to make a satire on terrorism, but it was only after an incident in his personal life that he took the idea seriously. “I was having a bad headache one day and had tied a piece of cloth tightly around my forehead. I was sporting a beard at that time and someone said that I looked like Osama Bin Laden! Though it was not exactly a compliment, I laughed out aloud and started thinking of making a spoof on Bin Laden. This was five years back, when I came up with a rough draft of the film. When I presented the same to Pooja and Aarty Shetty (producers of the film), they immediately decided to work with me on the project” says Sharma.
But what is the story all about? “Tere Bin Laden is about a journalist from Pakistan who wants to go to the US, right after the 9/11 attacks. Expectedly, he is denied entry. He then thinks of an uncanny way to enter the country — after coming across a farmer who looks like Bin Laden, he coaxes him to make a video, which he can use as his ticket to America,” explains Sharma.
On the other hand, Udaan’s story is something many kids and parents will be able to relate to. It is about Rohan who is sent to a boarding school and has to adjust with his authoritarian father and half brother after he comes back home. Rohan is forced to study engineering and forced by his father to work in a steel factory, although he aspires to be a writer.
The story comes to a flash point where Rohan has to decide between his passion for writing and the career his father has chosen for him. “There are elements of my life featured in the film. I always wanted to become an actor but since my dad was very strict, I never mustered up the courage to talk to him about my dreams. Finally, I had to lie to them and come to Mumbai!” says Motwane. “This is a film I have made with a lot of honesty. I am happy and humbled that it became an official selection at Cannes. Udaan has given new energy to directors like me in India to aim high,” adds the young director.
Both Tere Bin Laden and Udaan have an interesting star cast. The former has a Pakistani singer — Ali Jaffer — playing the lead role. “He is renowned as a Pakistani singer, but started his career as an actor on television. I had seen quite a few of his music videos too and felt that he was the right actor to play the lead in my film,” says Sharma.
In Udaan, Rajat Barmecha plays the character of Rohan while Ronit Roy is his father. Interestingly, even Rajat’s life story is similar to the film. Motwane says, “Rajat could not tell his parents about his desire to become an actor. He wanted to prove himself first. Only after he got his pay cheque did he inform his parents!” He adds further, “There is something endearing about Rajat that captivated me. The moment I met him I knew I had found the right guy for my film”