Obama 'trapped' by Bollywood kidnap comedy

Ahead of Barack Obama's visit to India next month, Bollywood has come up with a comedy kidnap movie whose plot is woven around the president's efforts to put the US economy back on track.

"Phas Gaya Re Obama" ("Obama is Trapped"), made on a budget of just 35 million rupees (800,000 dollars), is a comic tale of small time gangsters in northern India, whose criminal activities are hit by the global economic downturn.

The movie, distributed by Warner Bros, is ready for release but will only hit screens on November 26, several weeks after Obama's visit, which is scheduled for the beginning of the month.

"Phas Gaya Re Obama" has had to make way for a series of mega-budget movies which are traditionally released around the time of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, which falls on November 5.

There is no actual Obama character in the film, which stars model Neha Dhupia, who also appeared in a US television mini-series "Bollywood Hero" last year, and Rajat Kapoor.

The plot involves the abduction of a non-resident Indian who returns home to sell his ancestral property to repay debts in the United States after losing his job.

The gangsters look to Obama to revive the world economy and halt a sharp decline in their ransom earnings.

"It is a hilarious story of how the global recession affects kidnapping business of gangsters in a small town," writer and director Subhash Kapoor told reporters in India's entertainment capital Mumbai on Wednesday.

Denzil Dias, deputy managing director of Warner Bros in India, promised "one of the most original and funniest scripts in recent times."

It is not the first time Bollywood has co-opted the US president into the plot of one of its films.

His character also featured in the huge box-office hit "My Name is Khan," released in April, in which superstar Shah Rukh Khan played a US-resident Muslim Indian with Asperger's syndrome who marries a Hindu single mother.

After their marriage crumbles in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Khan sets out to meet Obama for help in winning her back.

Relations between India and the United States have steadily warmed over the past decade, with the two countries overcoming decades of mutual distrust during the Cold War era.

Obama last year welcomed Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the honour of the first state dinner of his presidency.

The Obama administration has vowed to build a broad global partnership with India, hailing the Asian country as "indispensable".