Films poke fun at Jews, Muslims, suicide bombers


Reuters April 10, 2010

LONDON: Nothing, it seems, is off limits to British comedy, with two films hitting theatres in the next month that poke fun at Muslims, Jews and, perhaps most controversially, suicide bombers.

"Four Lions", which received mixed reviews when it premiered at the Sundance film festival earlier this year, hits cinemas on May 7 and satirises a group of hapless Muslims who decide to blow themselves, and others up during the London Marathon.

Given the similarities to the real-life attacks on the city's transport system in 2005 that killed 52 people, some reviewers found watching the comedy an uncomfortable experience.

And "The Infidel", which opens on Friday, follows Muslim family man Mahmud Nasir, played by comedian Omid Djalili, who discovers he was in fact born a Jew called Solly Shimsillewitz.

In a light-hearted, low-budget movie, Mahmud strives to learn more about his real roots from an alcoholic Jewish cabbie called Lenny while at the same time trying to impress his son's prospective father-in-law who is a firebrand Muslim preacher.

Writer David Baddiel, a British television personality, seeks to expose prejudices in both communities by making fun of them, but believes that comparisons between The Infidel and Four Lions are not entirely fair.

"I think there's a slight weirdness in them being lumped together," he told Reuters in an interview.

"People are going to lump them together because they are about religion, and particularly Muslims, but one of the key things about my film is that it's not about suicide bombers."

Baddiel argues that by focusing on a normal protagonist -- a "relaxed" Muslim who swears and enjoys the odd drink -- his film is more radical by not setting out to shock or offend.

"I am interested in trying to talk about subjects in a comic way that I feel people are too frightened to talk about, but I'm not interested in what I feel is a slightly more adolescent project which is desperately trying to offend," he said.

"I think it's more subversive and more radical to try and do a film about Muslims and Jews, particularly Muslims I guess, that puts them in the mainstream. For me the radicalism in it, the taboo breaking in it, is in trying to make it normal."

COMMENTS (2)

Fayyaz Alam | 10 years ago | Reply David Baddiel knows all about irony. He was beaten up twice in school, once being a Jew and once for being a Paki (pakistani)! He is a good comedian who understands that Muslims & Jews have more in common than their Westerner counterparts. We should appreciate those who try to bridge the gap.
Maliha Hasan | 10 years ago | Reply Baddiel's right. The two dont sound the same; and anyways, i'm sure if the film about suide bombers is done tastefully & really is funny, the controversy will blow over. On another note..It's good that 'nothing is off limits in British comedy'. Nothing should be. Even here, in Pakistan. I think that's what creates dialogue and awareness.
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