A dusty desert town in the Kutch region of India, Adipur is half the world away from Hollywood. But thanks to an odd twist of fate, it is home to the Charlie Circle - the world's biggest group of Charlie Chaplin imitators.
In the summer of '66, the local cinema happened to show 'The Gold Rush' instead of one of its usual Bollywood potboilers. While nobody is sure of what exactly caused the switch, the town was soon transfixed by the comedian and his bow-legged walk. So much so, that they began to imitate it, added the suit and moustache, painted their faces white in an innocent attempt at imitation, and formed what is now the biggest Chaplin fan club in the world.
Dr. Ashok Aswani, the founder of the club, claims to have watched the film four times in a row on the day it was released. He was fired later that day, presumably for watching the movie four times on a workday, but says that he has no regrets. "I lost my job, but I gained Chaplin. I became obsessed with him" he says. Since then, the town has come together to celebrate Chaplin's birthday on April 16th with a parade, a screening, a themed cake, and an imitation contest in the town hall. Most charming, probably, is the fact that the celebration attracts all kinds of 'Chaplins' - both young and old, male and female. Somehow, everyone claims to see a part of themselves in him.
Image: Paolo Crosetto via Creative Commons