Yesterday ( April 16th ) was legendary actor Charlie Chaplin’s 129th birth anniversary. In Bollywood, where he is considered the inspiring icon, especially when it comes to Chaplinesque ‘tragicomedy’, there were reverential respects paid to him by various acting schools and several actors.
Curiously enough, Chaplin’s authentic ‘silent-yet-eloquent’ portrayal of the ‘Tramp’ was considered an artistic extension of his real-life. The precocious actor-director’s childhood in London was one of abject poverty and hardship. As his father was missing and his mother struggled financially, he was sent to a workhouse twice before the age of nine.
Chaplin began performing at an early age, touring music-halls and later working as a stage actor and comedian. At 19, he was signed by the prestigious Fred Karno company which took him to the U S. The ‘genius’ Chaplin directed his own films from an early stage and continued to hone his craft.
Back here in Hindi movies, ‘Showman’ Raj Kapoor was perfect in his take-off on Charlie, in movies like 'Shree 420' and in ‘Mera Naam Joker’ where he managed to connect with the masses with the fusion of happiness and misery together. As if in continuing with his screen-tradition, Raj Kapoor's actor-grandson Ranbir Kapoor too put on a classy Chaplin act in 'Ajab Prem ki Ghazab Kahani' and he disclosed how he looked up to the great comedian as an inspiration for his award-worthy role in ‘Barfi’.
Interestingly, the ‘late’ legendary Sridevi, who posthumously won the latest ‘National Award’ as announced on Friday, had also performed the Chaplinesque bumbling act in her landmark retro-movie ‘Mr. India’. Films may come and films may go, but Charlie goes on forever.