Collateral damage involving a herd of sheep, a flock of crows and Four Lions

I love those days when I get to laugh out loud. In fact, I am in absolute awe of those moments when I laugh so hard, it hurts. And I love falling over from my chair while in the process of doing so. I wouldn’t mind a few tears that would accompany such bouts of delirious guffaws. And I got all these and more when I recently landed up at the doorsteps of the Alliance Francaise of Chennai for the screening of the British film Four Lions on the closing day of a week long European film fest.

True to nature I ended up reaching the venue almost 10, or maybe 15 minutes late. But even before I could settle myself in a seat in the newly renovated Eduardo Michelin auditorium that was packed to capacity, I found myself rolling over in laughter. Almost gasping in disbelief at times, I began wondering how could a problem as serious as terrorism be approached and tackled with audacity and authority that sprang from the fountain of humor?

In between hysterical screams of laughter during the course of the film directed by Chris Morris, I thought to myself - how does someone go about making a film that looks at religious fanaticism right in the eye and then goes on to tickle it to death or until it cries out loud to stop? The counterweight of morality that filmmakers try to effuse so explicitly in films dealing with such themes is almost conspicuous by its absence in Four Lions. People do what they do for they feel they are right the way they look at things. Or are they?

Ideas concerning faith and one’s belief systems are barely spared in this scalpel sharp critique examining the nature of indoctrination – religious and otherwise. Individuals who might have been ready to sacrifice themselves at the altar of a holy battle are plunged into the chaos of confusion, with absolutely no comprehension as to when and why they decided to turn martyrs?

The outlandish nature of the proceedings, no matter how senseless it might appear strikes a very resonant chord with audiences born into an age of racial intolerance. And at the center of this intolerant little universe brewing in a suburb of London are the four titular lions - a quartet of simple minded Britons, who think they have a responsibility towards their brethren and that responsibility can be fulfilled only through sacrifice - involving them and many innocent bystanders, which should shake the Western world out of its numbed slumber.

But waging war against a certain ideology is no easy task as our protagonists realize early on in the film. From nodding one's heads vigorously while walking the pavements to avoid identification by the surveillance cams to learning about the origin of the firing end of a rocket launcher, the really hard way, or even cooking up a rap track justifying one's actions that have been preordained by God almighty, the tasks represent a tall order for even the most hardened of fanatics.

I shall not go on to divulge any of the jokes in the film, purely for the reason that each and every one of them is a singular gem, a comedic milestone of sorts in itself. You can take it from me on record, you won't find a funnier film this entire year. Slip the disc in and prepare yourself for the biggest laughathon since The Hangover.

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