I stalk the British actor and comedian Omid Djalili on Twitter. There, the truth is out. And if I lived in London there is no question that I'd be rushing to see him during his stand-up comedy season at the Leicester Square Theatre. I know about the show starting this Tuesday because he told me and his 179,079 (as of April 24) other followers on Twitter, and I know it will be hugely entertaining because I've seen many of his comedy routines and sketches online as a result of falling for him in the British comedy The Reluctant Infidel.
He has a buoyant career but Omid Djalili simply wasn't on my radar until I saw him in this film, which screens on SBS One this Saturday at 9.30pm. He plays the lead role of Mahmud, a Muslim who has an identity crisis when he discovers that he was adopted and that his birth parents are Jewish. (In real life, Omid Djalili was born to Iranian parents of the Baha'i faith.)
There is a lot of intellectual mortar in the script, written by David Baddiel, an atheist of Jewish heritage. It prompts questions about the nature of faith, about being born to beliefs versus adopting them, about tolerance and intolerance. But the way Omid Djalili dominates this film with his delightfully slapstick performance guarantees that there's nothing ponderous going on. The film taps into the religious tensions that envelope the world but with a skilled lightness of touch.
Now a certified fan of Omid Djalili, I know from Twitter that in the last six weeks he: went to a memorial for Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in a racist attack while waiting for a bus in south east London 20 years ago; loves writer/director Asghar Fardhadi's film A Separation and recently saw it for the third time; and admired a speech by British politician and former actor Glenda Jackson about Thatcherism and writer Stewart Lee's exploration of right wing stand-up comedians, which appeared in the New Statesman.
Earlier this month he wrote the following: “Is it a). how empty would my life be without twitter? or b). how much more productive [could] I be in my life without this bullshit?”
Following Omid Djalili is one of the reasons I don't struggle with the value of Twitter exactly because I can follow him. It's a great example of how Twitter is film fandom's biggest modern development – if the subject of your affections is as active on Twitter as @omid9