Chaplin in Gujarat

Adipur, a small town in Kutch is paying the ultimate homage to The Tramp by laying the foundation stone of a Chaplin Bhavan on his 125th birth anniversary on April 16

Famous Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini had once said of Charlie Chaplin: “He is the Adam from whom all of us have originated.” Undoubtedly, the inimitable figure has made a worldwide impact and resided in hearts of people around the globe. One such place is the small town of Adipur in Kutch where there has been a tradition of impersonating the film great on his birthday. A doctor, Ashok Aswani who worships Chaplin, daily, started the trend. Forty years hence, Dr Aswani and film historian, Amrit Gangar are joining hands to celebrate the icon’s 125th birthday by announcing a Chaplin Bhavan in Adipur.

Young chaplins at Adipur railway station in Kutch, Gujarat. Pic courtesy/Amrit Gangar 

Small steps to big dreams
Gangar, a well-known film historian recalls that during the research of the Australian film, The Boot Cake, he had chanced upon the Chaplin Circle comprising the doctor (who prescribes Chaplin films to his patients) and 50-odd impersonators of Chaplin. The historian remarks how Chaplin is the perfect inspiration for this small town. “Initially, Chaplin was incredibly poor. In his biography, there is a line: ‘I wish I could’ve given my mother a cup of tea to save her.’ But if you look at his later life, Fellini called him an aristocrat.” Outlining Chaplin’s graph of opportunities, Gangar feels that the small town also deserves more.

“The Chaplin Bhavan will have an auditorium that will screen films, especially silent cinema, a gallery, and a guesthouse for people to visit and stay. The spirit of the project will come from Chaplin himself,” remarks Gangar.

Charlie Chaplin’s three greatest films include The Great Dictator, The Kid, and The Gold Rush

Gandhi-Chaplin connect
Both Mahatma Gandhi and Chaplin asserted on the need to give happiness, and move away from the use of machines in our daily lives, remarks Gangar. As Chaplin in The Great Dictator had brought attention to the abuse of power, looking at what’s going on in today’s times; such initiatives are important, says Gangar who is originally from Kutch.

There will be a procession from the main circle to Gandhi Samadhi. It will include unique personalities like Kishore Parmar, a bus conductor, who composes songs for Chaplin. Other activities will include planting a tree and naming a street after the comic actor. Chaplin’s statue will also be installed at Adipur’s railway station paying the multi-
talented artiste, the perfect homage.

Amrit Gangar. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Chief Guest speak
Sanjna Kapoor, who will lay the foundation stone, shares her excitement about the project, “The first time I heard about Dr Aswani was when my friend Hemant Chaturvedi was showing his photographs of the Rann of Kutch. I feel it is timely as what Chaplin said is poignant and well articulated on the political status of our times. His art was incredible as he could say so much through silent films. He once said, ‘The spoken word in the motion picture is like putting lyrics to a Beethoven piece — hardly needed.’ But in The Great Dictator, he had something important to say.”

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