The American senate, in order to improve it's fast declining global image, asks comedian Albert Brooks to write a 500 page document about what makes Muslims laugh in India and Pakistan. Bidding adieu to his wife and young daughter,and accompanied by two government bureaucrats, Albert opens up an office in New Delhi, hires a pretty Secretary, Maya, and goes around asking people at random as to what makes them laugh. He finds that people generally look at him suspiciously and refuse to answer any questions. He then decides to go public and stage a comedy show, the suggested place for the publicity is old Delhi. Accordingly the four re-locate, book a school auditorium to seat about 400 people, go around the city distributing leaflets, inviting the general public to attend the show. They get a houseful response, however, Albert's comedy act fails to impress. He then decides to try his hand in Pakistan, only to be told that he cannot get a visa for another 14 days. He decides to enter ... Written by
Sony Pictures Classics was originally going to distribute the film in the USA but chose not to, citing controversy over the film's title, which they wanted to change. Warner Independent Pictures then picked up the film for US distribution. See more »
The Indian flag shown in the Indian government office is upside down. The correct order of the flag is saffron at the top and green at the bottom. See more »
Brooks will have to look elsewhere and probably change his naive methods
Albert Brooks should look elsewhere to fulfill his quest of learning what makes Muslims laugh. The approach of this film and its execution are so heavily drenched in Western stereotypes about the people they want to study, it's a surprise the title doesn't use the word 'Moslem' instead of 'Muslim'.
Made in a sort of 'wink, wink, nudge, nudge' manner, it has Brooks playing himself at a point in time when his career prospects are slim and decent roles are hard to come by. Luckily for him the white house and state department come knocking and Brooks is sent off to the subcontinent to write a report on what makes Muslims laugh. Forget that India is officially a secular nation (the movie reasons there are about 150 Muslims there) or that Al spends in all about 15 minutes in neighboring Pakistan (an Islamic country), the fact remains that nothing about this film, except a scant few one liners, is funny or amusing. The list of crimes it commits with regard to typecasting is enormous and unforgivable an office in the tech capital of the world has no computer, trendy young English speaking Indian women only wear sari's and the Pakistani's that meet Brooks look like bearded fundamentalists who smoke hashish- all of which shows great naiveté on the part of everyone involved with this misguided attempt, even if the irresponsible intent was to be tongue in cheek.
The method used by Albert Brooks to understand what is considered funny to these people is putting on a standup comedy show in both India and Pakistan, but this doesn't work too well. Was it ever considered by him that perhaps it isn't the understanding of the English language that prevents the Indian audience from finding him funny, but that all the gags are soaked in cultural references completely alien to them (Halloween, 'The Exorcist' etc.)? Or that the people being targeted aren't really aware of just what standup comedians really do. It becomes pretty clear that the movie is played for obvious lowbrow humor by displaying ignorance about its purpose that borders on being a sham and the real point is to milk the present hysteria about the people of the Muslim community and make some quick bucks in process via the mild publicity it has already received for its attention grabbing title. Give this one a pass.
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