"We want to ride on the wave of success of Borat, to take advantage of this popular image in the West to show people the real Kazakhstan, not Baron Cohen's Kazakhstan," Rakishev told Kazakh tabloid Kazakhstanskaya Pravda.
The full title of Sacha Baron Cohen's mock documentary from 2006 is "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."
MTV, which helped boost "Borat Sagdiyev's" fame by inviting him to host its annual European music awards, once described the character as the "sixth most-famous man in Kazakhstan."
Pop critics insist that Baron Cohen's real target -- in that and other films -- is woefully ignorant Westerners.
But Kazakh authorities were not amused. First they blocked Baron Cohen's website, earning a reprimand from Reporters Without Borders. (The film was also banned in Russia.) Then they threatened legal action, prompting the Jewish comic to respond in character that he "fully support[s] my government's position to sue this Jew."
And finally, in an interview with RFE/RL, Kazakhstan questioned his sanity (it was unclear whether Baron Cohen's or Borat's):
Astana eventually calmed down. A daughter of the Kazakh president and near-überleader-for-life, Nursultan Nazarbaev, even accused countrymen of doing more damage through their prickly reactions than Baron Cohen's character could ever inflict.
There has been no public comment on filmmaker Rakishev's new project from the English-born comedian himself, who shot to fame and fortune turning a mirror on Western society through brutal comic depictions of a would-be British hip-hopper, an effeminate Austrian, and the bungling Kazakh wunderjournalist Borat.
But something tells me the publicity-hungry comedian who essentially put Kazakhstan on the map for a whole lot of Western youngsters won't mind a bit.
-- Andy Heil