Fake Chaplins mark actor’s birthday in India

ADIPUR, India – Canes in hand and bowler hats firmly in place, dozens of Charlie Chaplin impersonators tramped through the streets of a small port town in western India on Tuesday to celebrate the birthday of the legendary comic actor and filmmaker.

Chaplin has an odd resonance in this industrial town. Surrounded by salt flats bordering the Thar desert, Adipur’s only claim to fame is the annual parade – now in its 40th year – to honor the silent era actor.

More than 100 people participated in the parade that included brass bands, camel carts and open jeeps carrying life-sized cut-outs of Chaplin. Men and women dressed in crumpled black suits and carrying canes practiced the cheerful tramp’s customary bowlegged walk as the parade made its way through the streets of Adipur in Gujarat state.

“Charlie Chaplin is our hero. Every year we celebrate his birthday with a parade,” said Ashok Aswani, founder of Charlie Circle, a club that has been celebrating Chaplin’s birthday since 1973.

Women dressed in colorful local costumes performed traditional Indian dances around the Chaplin impersonators as boom boxes loaded on small trucks belted out Hindi film songs.

The two-hour long parade winds down with club members performing skits mimicking Chaplin and the day’s festivities end with a screening of one of his classic films.