Over-sensitive BBC gets cold feet, withdraws funding for ‘Infidel’ comedy
LAST week a comedy called The Infidel opened in UK cinemas. It tells the story of 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 written by David Baddiel, 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.
The BBC, according to this report, had originally been a co-producer of The Infidel, but, says Baddiel, then got cold feet.
The BBC changed character. The BBC became much more wary about doing anything that might be considered to be offensive, trouble making or whatever.
The inspiration for the story came partly from his own experience growing up in a society where his appearance meant many people assumed he was a Muslim. In fact he is from a Jewish background, although he describes himself as an atheist.
Baddiel said he seeks to expose prejudices in both communities by making fun of them, and 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.
Another comedy that opened in the UK at the same time is Four Lions, which satirises a group of hapless Muslims who decide to blow themselves, and others up during the London Marathon. It received mixed reviews when it premiered at the Sundance film festival earlier this year.
Chris Morris, who wrote and directed Four Lions, has generally shied away from interviews, but he said recently that his new film, and much of his previous work, is only considered controversial because the media decides to call it that.
He embarked on Four Lions:
As a reaction to the war of words around the whole issue of terrorism and conflicting ideologies.