Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rowan Atkinson: Understated Hyper Comedy

Rowan Atkinson is a rare commodity- a natural born actor. He is so pure a comedian that he personifies the character rather enacting it. He chose comedy and stamped it with his subdued charisma. Ease and understatement are the chief ingredients of his genius.  Understatement and Mr Bean. Sounds odd but Mr Bean or the character played by Atkinson is always in lower key. Any actor who has ‘learnt‘ acting will play it in much higher octave than an actor for whom acting is like breathing. With Atkinson this is a skill that is instinctive rather than honed. 

This allows him to really compartmentalize. From available accounts, he is a very shy person with a passion for fast car and a very private family life. He doesn’t have to be a buffoon all the time as he can summon comedy at will. Tony Robinson, who played  Baldrick in  Blackadder with "cunning plan" fame told this to the Guardian, "he's one of the few mega performers who genuinely has a full and fulfilling life away from showbusiness….. he remains for me the consummate comedy performer of his generation." Robinson added: "He's a very shy man, ….. When he's not working, you are unlikely to realise that he's in the room, but as soon as he starts, all attention focuses on him, partly because of this extraordinary supreme talent that he's got."

It is this instinctive nature of his acting that protects him from being overshadowed. British TV is veritable playfield of giants of comedy and Atkinson has shared screen with most of them. Veterans like Stephen Fry and Huge Laurie have the potential of eating up any artist simply by deploying their well timed histrionics. However, with Atkinson, their monumental talent only enhances the canvass already created by the understated hyper comedy.  Black Adder was Rowan Atkinson all the way despite the presence of stalwarts with scene grabbing lines.  This happens because he is not dependent on props  to create humour. He is great in wordy comedy like Black Adder and equally devastating in physical laugh riot of Mr Bean.
His knack of zeroing in on the vitals of his character and chiseling away the distraction till only the core remains is the very definition of acting itself.  After distillation what remains is unadulterated and super-refined comedy. 

-Dhiraj Singh


  1. a great actor always makes it look like 'instinctive rather than honed!

  2. रोवन के अरबों खरबों मुरीदों में से एक मैं भी हूँ. खासकर मिस्टर बीन सिरीज़ का. हर बड़े अभिनेता की तरह रोवन की भी अपनी एक आत्यंतिक शैली है, जो न तो किसी की नक़ल है और ना ही जिसकी नक़ल उतारी जा सकती है. रोवन के अभिनय के अलावा जो बात मिस्टर बीन को हमारे समय का एक अमर चरित्र बनाती है वह इस धारावाहिक की अवधारण है. क्या है मिस्टर बीन की मूल अवधारणा?
    एक ऐसे समय में रह रहे हैं, जब हम में से हर कोई, चाहे तो जनम से स्मार्ट,( इसका जो कुछ भी मतलब हो) और विलक्षण है या फिर उसकी कोशिश में लगा है. हमारे समय के बच्चे माँ का दूध पीते पीते माँ से उसके विवाह-पूर्व सम्बन्ध के बारे में सवाल करने लगे हैं. स्मार्टनेस के ऐसे घनघोर युग में मिस्टर बीन वो सारी हरकतें करता है, जो एक व्यस्क के लिए तो कुफ्र है ही, हम अपने बच्चों को भी ऐसी नादानियां करने की इजाज़त नहीं दे सकते.
    मिस्टर बीन दरअसल एक व्यस्क शिशु है. वह विलक्षण है, लेकिन इतर अर्थों में. उसकी विलाक्षनता को हम अफ्फोर्ड नहीं कर सकते. और यही है हमारी इस तार्किक वैज्ञानिक सभ्यता की सचाई कि हमें कुछ ख़ास तरह के मनुष्य चाहिए, जिन्हें स्कूल भेजा जा सके, प्रशिक्षित किया जा सके. लेकिन मिस्टर बीन को कैसे करेंगे प्रशिक्षित? वह तो सारे किये धरे पर पानी फेर देगा. यह अकारण नहीं है कि बच्चों के बीच मिस्टर बीन की बेवकूफियां इतनी हिट हैं क्योंकि हर बच्चा प्रशिक्षण से नफरत करता है.

    1. Thank You. I see the point that you are making.