PESHAWAR, Sept 2: A dubbed version of a popular English comedy serial has been gaining popularity among the fun-starved viewers in Pakhtun areas.

The mostly silent and bumbling “Mr Bean” (played by Rowan Atkinson), one of Britain’s most successful comic characters from a serial of the 1990s, has recently become popular in the province and neighbouring Afghanistan due to the dubbing of its episodes into Pashto. The episodes are available on Compact Discs.

Zahirullah from Bughdada in Mardan district has been dubbing episodes from the serial and chunks from “Shrek” films in Pashto. He has dubbed 15 CDs since 2002. The public ratings of “Khrash Prash Durha Dabao” and the recently-released album “Ma Mah Shmera Dar Gadyam” are high as both are comical. “I have sold more than 100,000 copies,” Zahirullah told Dawn.

A graduate of the Mardan College, 28-year-old Zahirullah, who wanted to become an actor, could not fulfil his dream due to his family’s conservative views. But now he has found a way to satisfy his taste by using his voice.

Kids like the antics of Mr Beans whom Pakhtun viewers know as ‘Babuji’ but adults also can’t help laughing at the Pashto slangs and comic dialogues of Babuji.

He said that he got inspired from one of his neighbours named Babuji who walked and behaved like Mr. Beans and so he named Mr Beans as Babuji in the dubbed version.

“People of all ages can watch my dubbed CDs as they are not only pure comedy but also has colloquial Pashto which Pakhtuns are slowly forgetting now,” he said.

He said that even a Maulana of one of the mosques in his village asked him for copies with a request to remove all music first.

Babuji, Nana Patekar, “Shrek” and “Donkey” are the most favourite characters to Pakhtun viewers after Zahirullah’s dubbed CDs introduced them in the villages of the NWFP, Afghanistan and even Pakhtuns living in Middle East countries who don’t understand even a single word of English.

Zahirullah said: “I am not in it for money. I am doing it for fun now although I started doing it to fulfil the dream of becoming an actor.”

Zahirullah, who knows how to use the computer, writes the scripts spontaneously to synchronize the slang words with the spoken words on film, he then mixes voices and edits it on his own.

He said: “I can demonstrate my skills in 42 different voices, including both male and female voices.”

He holds premier shows in different villages of the NWFP and the Middle East where a large number of Pakhtun immigrant workers live.

His religious-minded father relaxed rules and let him produce such CDs on one condition that he would also do something for his people.

Zahirullah has recently set up a ‘Saya Trust’ to help needy children and plans to set up a burns unit and hospital in Mardan district.

He said a private production house in Charsadda used his name and his picture on their production which had ‘abusive language’.

He said: “I have initiated legal action against them for violation of copy rights.”

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