I just finished watching an absolute treat of a film. It's called Four Lions, a superb, politically incorrect black comedy film on jihad and terrorism. Yes, that's right. In the wake of all the recent sensational revelations, I just happened to come across a mention of this film while
wasting away my time getting inspired on the Internet. While the timing and the nature of the whole operation cannot help but fuel the cynic in me with countless and meaningless arguments, he certainly is dead. He's gone to hell. Let him.
But I did manage to catch Shor in the City last week. I've frankly been very surprised at all the rave reviews it has been getting for what can only be called an average execution of a good script (the advertising terms are kicking in now). Though made on a low budget (another advertising term), there was certainly scope for betterment in many departments of the film. Some scenes felt completely unnecessary. Also the Telugu cricketer angle left me completely baffled. Enough of that. I read somewhere that Shor... bore a resemblance to Four Lions. Hence it was, ahem, procured.
Four Lions is the story of five British jihadists (there is a reason why it becomes 'four') who dream of teaching the Western Imperialists a lesson by, well, blowing up something. The only problem is, they can't decide what to blow up. Omar leads his dim-witted brother Waj, the bellicose White convert Muslim Barry, Faisal and wannabe rapper Hassan. The writers weave in a nice bit of irony in the characters, where the liberal Omar is the jihadi and his extremely orthodox brother is a peace-loving man. The typical dry British humour writing makes for some hilarious sequences. The bumbling buffoons that they are, they can't get anything right. After making their way to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, Omar and Waj try to take out an American drone with a rocket launcher but end up launching it in the opposite direction and wiping out their own Arab camp. Watch out for the resolution of this scene at the end. And remember that this was written in 2010, and just admire the situation. I won't say more.
Back after their misadventures in Pakistan, Omar and co decide to put their plan into action in London. Again, they stumble across London trying to get their hands on explosives, and then trying to avoid blowing themselves up. One of them tries to blow up a building by attaching a bomb to a crow. While the film is largely funny throughout its run time, it also brings to the fore, the narrow-mindedness of the terrorist and their convenient interpretation of Islam to suit their needs. Look out for Barry's arguments on all the things in the world that are not Islam. So utterly inane are the foursome that the madcap bombers end up wearing huge costumes while on their way to completing their task. Not a very intelligent choice if you want to blend into the crowd.
With all the idiotic rapping (uber-funny that too), rib-tickling situations and paranoia of the terrorists, the other side of the coin, the police isn't left too far behind. They manage to raid the wrong house - a sad indicator of the times we live in and how we tend to slot everyone in pre-defined places in our minds. Stereotyping, however sensitive it may be, tends to be funny, and the film uses plenty of it to its own advantage.
The comedy of errors in the finale leads in to a sad reality of our times. So why the strange title? It's the loveable terrorist (what an oxymoron) Waj's version of heaven - where he won't have to stand in a long line to get into the Rubber Dinghy rides at Alton Towers, an amusement park in London.
The one question that popped in my mind was this: Is religion (be it any religion) really worth all the trouble we are taking for it?