Kazakhstan warmed up to controversial British actor Sacha Baron Cohen on Monday when its government thanked the actor for helping boost the former Soviet nation’s tourism industry, the BBC reported.
The country had threatened to sue the actor in 2005 for his outrageous comedy flick Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, for portraying the country in a negative light.
Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov told politicians, “with the release of this film, the number of visas issued by Kazakhstan grew tenfold. I am grateful to ‘Borat’ for helping attract tourists to Kazakhstan.”
After the movie’s release in 2006, the authorities had apparently banned the film, sales of the DVD and blocked users from visiting Borat’s website.
The film follows journalist and television personality Borat Sagdiyev as he travels to the United States where he receives a cultural shock. He even pursues Hollywood bombshell Pamela Anderson.
Kazakhstan officials had opined that the movie, with parts shot in Romania, portrayed Kazakhstan as a racist, sexist and primitive country.
In the movie, Cohen’s character Borat bragged about incest and rape in the country, joking that it had the cleanest prostitutes in the world.
So profound is the movie’s influence, that last month the spoof national anthem of Kazakhstan from Borat was played at a sports event in Kuwait by mistake, after which the country lodged a formal complaint with the Olympic Committee of Asia.