Indonesia Counterfeits Mr Bean

In a country where counterfeiting is taken for granted in everything from films to pharmaceuticals, Indonesia’s film industry appears to have gone one better. They have counterfeited Mr Bean, the bumbling British character played by Rowan Atkinson.

Although the actor hopping across Indonesian movie screens as a ghost may look like Mr. Bean, and the film, Mr Bean Kusurapan DP (Mr. Bean's Obsessed With DP) may feature the popular British comedian's name, it isn’t him. The producers didn’t put the actor’s name in the credits.

A joint study by the University of Indonesia’s Institute for Economic and Social Research and the Indonesian Anti-Counterfeiting Society estimated last year that Indonesia loses US$4.8 billion in potential taxes each year as counterfeit goods flood into the country. The survey rated 12 sectors, chosen for their high consumption rates, including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, clothing, automotive parts, electronics and computer software. Apparently nobody thought to include British comedians.

In fact, nobody knows who the actor is beyond the fact that he’s an unnamed British actor who bears some resemblance to Atkinson, who is hugely popular in Indonesia. He stars across from the curvy Indonesian pop star and actress Dewi Persik – the DP in the title -- in a physical comedy about a hopping ghost who falls in love with a buxom entertainer who sings and dances dangdut, the sexy, gyrating indigenous folk music of Indonesia.

News that a film starring Atkinson would be on the country’s movie screens brought out legions of moviegoers who usually ignore Indonesian-language films. Viewers were incredulous.

“Wow, that's some serious deceit and misdirection,” wrote one. “I thought only China could pull off this trick with 'high-quality' fakes and knock-offs. Apparently Indonesia is catching up very fast…must have learned from their evolving politicians!”

It appears that even Dewi Persik may have been taken in, telling reporters a month or so ago that she was starring in a film with Atkinson after the producer, KK Dheeraj had spent a year persuading the comedian to make a movie in Indonesia. She said that she was excited to act alongside Mr. Bean.

“Not many people have this opportunity,” Dewi said. “So when I will meet him the first time, I will take a lot of photos for sure.”

Now she’s telling reporters that there was nothing odd about making a film with a Mr. Bean knockoff.

“It's common in business, it can be done,” the singer said in a text message to reporters.

Dheeraj said the film's title, and the presence of a fake Mr. Bean, is not deceptive.

"It's no lie that the film is titled 'Mr. Bean Kesurupan D.P.,' it can clearly be seen in the movie," Dheeraj said. "Nothing is wrong with the movie. I said that the actor for Mr. Bean is from Britain. [The fake] Mr. Bean is also from Britain."

Dheeraj argued that Mr. Bean is a popular name, and that producing a film starring a knock-off Mr. Bean is perfectly normal.

“The spectators were not disappointed, they were satisfied watching the film,” he said.

(With reporting by Teddy Kurniawan & Liberty Jemadu, Jakarta Globe)