Feb 06 2016

 Charlie Chaplin, Bollywood star

by   Mayur Lookhar

A look at Indian actors who stepped into Chaplin’s shoes

1 Noor Mohammed Charlie

Silence is golden. This was aptly displayed by the legendary Charles Spencer Chaplin, master of the silent screen. Chaplin's popularity cut across generations and boundaries, making him a global icon. He was idolised by the Hindi film industry too, with many of our stars paying tribute to the great actor.
He was hailed as the first comedy king of Indian cinema. Noor Mohammed loved Charlie Chaplin so much that he not only impersonated the great man in his films, but added Charlie to his name following the release of his 1933 flick The Indian Charlie. After partition, he moved to Pakistan, where he didn't have much of a career. He passed away in Sindh in 1971.

2 Majnu 

Born Harold Lewis, Majnu was a popular comedian in the early years of Indian cinema. He was cast as the lead in a 1935 satirical take on the Laila-Majnu love saga. The film's success led to him being rechristened as Majnu. His mannerisms and moustache were Chaplinesque. Some of his popular films included Ek Thi Ladki (1949), Ek Do Teen (1953) and Jalwa (1955).

3 Raj Kapoor

Prithviraj Kapoor's son Raj started his career as a child actor in 1935 with Inquilab. 12 years later, he made his debut with Madhubala in Neel Kamal. At 24, he launched his own production, R.K films, also becoming the youngest director in the industry in the process. Under his production, Kapoor starred in films like Awara,  Shree 420, Chori Chori, Jagte Raho, Jis Desh Men Ganga Rehta Hai and Mera Naam Joker, modelling his persona in them all on Chaplin. Awara was even nominated for the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and the classic track ‘Mera Joota Hai Japani’ from Shree 420 only enhanced his reputation as India's Chaplin.

4  Mehmood 

If Raj Kapoor had the innocence of Chaplin, Mehmood brought out the joker in Chaplin to the tee. The 1968 flick Aulad had Mehmood playing Chamanlal Charlie Singapore, although his mannerisms were more British than Mandarin.

5 Kamal Haasan  and Chiranjeevi

Chaplin was revered down south too, with Kamal Haasan paying a fitting tribute to the great actor in Tamil flick Punnagai Mannan, which was later remade in Hindi as Cha Cha Charlie.
Telegu superstar Chiranjeevi discovered the Chaplin in him with this track from the flick Chantabbai (1986)

6 Sridevi

Bollywood actresses didn’t hesitate into stepping into Chaplin’s shoes either, as this sequence from Mr.India proves. She was disguised as Chaplin to gain entry into a casino, with a little help from an invisible Mr India.

7 Vidya Balan

Balan emulates Sridevi in an upcoming fictional saga. Her last disguise drama Bobby Jasoos didn’t really impresses viewers, but Balan probably hopes the Chaplin moustache brings a smile to many faces.

8 Ranbir Kapoor

Both Ranbir Kapoor and Anurag Basu didn’t hesitate to say that Barfi! was an ode to Chaplin and other great silent film heroes. The film’s credits also acknowledge this fact. Sadly, it didn’t help the film’s Oscar chances, although enacting Chaplin’s famous bank robbery scene helped Ranbir bag an award for Best Actor