Pak Bean is the real deal
By Andrew Moyo
People who grew up in the early 90s will recall Rowan Atkinson’s Mr Bean as one of the best sitcoms during that time.
While Atkinson has starred in other productions playing various characters, the Mr Bean brand might as well be the most famous in his career.
The last time comedy fans got a taste of Bean’s antics was in the 2007 movie Mr Bean’s Holiday, while kids still enjoy the animated version which is still showing.
The Zimbabwean comedy lovers have been given the opportunity to relive memories of the comic legend through his look-alike, Asif Muhammad, popularly known as Pak Bean, who is in the country on the invitation of Splash Paints.
The Pakistani comic was a major attraction at the Harare Agricultural Show last week where many kids and adults thronged the Splash Paint stand to have a glimpse of the personality and perhaps share a Kodak moment with him.
This Saturday, Pak Bean will stage a show at the Harare International Conference Centre where he will be supported by local comics Clive Chigubhu, Simba the Comic King and Long John, among others.
At 42, this guy will certainly remind many people of Atkinson in his heyday, considering that the original Mr Bean is now in his 60s. Pak possesses those popular Mr Bean eyebrows, complete with the big nose and cheeky smile, no wonder why there was commotion at the Harare International Airport when he arrived.
Despite the language barrier since English is not very popular in Pakistan, Pak’s antics, complemented by the brown doll and attire identical to the one worn by Atkinson in the Bean series, was enough to generate an overwhelming response from the public.
However, the language barrier will not be an issue considering that the Bean character does not speak. When he toured the Exhibition Park and Harare’s central business district, scores of people could be heard arguing, with some saying he was the real deal while others were disputing that.
With Atkinson regarded as one of the funniest people on the planet, Pak Bean has a huge task ahead of him if he is to satisfy the not-so-easy to impress Zimbabwean audience.
This is set to be a new experience for a Zimbabwean comedy audience that has lately warmed up to stand-up comedy. The Karachi-based personality might be new to the local comedy lovers but he is popular in most Asian countries, especially his home where he has been featured in numerous adverts.
In a brief interview through an interpreter, Pak Bean said he adopted the act seven years ago after realising that many people were likening him to Atkinson.
“I have always loved doing comedy and I was a big fan of Mr Bean but after realising that some people actually thought I was Atkinson, I decided to create the Pakistan version of Mr Bean,” said Pak Bean.
Besides showbiz, the comic said he is a successful businessman back home.
“I just do comedy for the love of it but back home I run an import and export business, which is doing well.” The comic does not only replicate some of Mr Bean’s antics but also has original material.
“I have so many antics that I created on my own so people that are coming to the show next week should come prepared to laugh. They are in for a treat.”
Splash Paints General Manager Friendson Agrippah, said they had brought the comic to be their brand partner for this year’s agricultural show. “We did not only bring him here to be our brand ambassador but also as a way of giving back to the community,” said Agrippah.
“Things might be a bit tough out there but at least this guy will bring a smile or laughter in someone’s life. We will also take him on a countrywide tour to places that include Chitungwiza, Norton, Mutare, Morondera, Rusape and Bulawayo if time permits.”
Agrippah said his boss discovered the comic while he was attending a trade fair in Dubai where the comic was performing and thought it was a good idea to bring him to Zimbabwe.
“My boss attends many trade fairs in various Asian countries so he was attending one in Dubai and saw that this comedian was a big attraction there so he decided to also bring him to Zimbabwe. This guy has performed in many Asian countries, including India and China but this is his first time visiting Africa,” said Agrippah.
While the last two shows that took place at the HICC attracted bumper crowds, it still remains to be seen if Pak Bean has what it takes to achieve the same feat as Kansiime and Jah Prayzah. The organisers of the show, however, said they were not worried about the numbers since their priority is marketing their products.
“We are confident that this guy will attract many people to the show since we have already sold almost half the tickets but that is not our main objective. For us it is not just about the money but we are doing this as a marketing tool for pushing our various products.”
Tickets for the show are being sold for US$5, US$15, US$20 and US$50 for the various seating areas. While his looks and certain mannerisms may have charmed thousands of Atkinson followers into falling for Mr Pak Bean, the Pakistani version of the popular comic could be in for a rude awakening this Saturday. The Sunday Mail