If you weren't convinced that the language of cinema is universal, then perhaps this story about a Charlie Chaplin fan club in the most unlikeliest of places will change your opinion. BBC News reports that in Adipur, Gujarat in India, more than 100 people gathered to celebrate the famed actor's birthday on April 16th. They ran the gamut, from young to old, male and female, but they were united in one thing -- their love of Chaplin.
Most of the celebrants (who don the iconic Little Tramp costume) are part of The Charlie Circle, a fan club formed in the area that has been marking the anniversary of the actor's birth since 1973. It's a wild celebration, an east-meets-west affair that finds women with toothbrush mustaches dancing to Bollywood hits. The whole thing takes on a religious tone, with statues, posters, and a Hindu priest leading chants. The parade winds through the town and eventually finishes at a local hall, where Chaplin films are shown and skits recreated.
The Charlie Circle has been featured in a full-length Australian documentary from filmmaker Kathryn Millard and maintains a website. There are currently approximately 200 members in the club, founded by Ashok Aswani. The roots of his Chaplin obsession can be traced back to 1966, when a local theater began playing one of comedian's films. "A whole new world of cinema opened up for me. The music, technique, photography was so different! And I thought, is Chaplin an actor or a magician? I fell off my seat laughing in the darkness," Aswani said. The young man, who watched all four showings that first day instead of going to work, was subsequently fired from his job. One lost gig seems a small price to pay for bringing the Little Tramp to a part of the world where you'd least expect to find him.