In February 2011, the city is gearing up for a week-long Charlie Chaplin festival. The screenings will be at a select multiplex with entry on invitation only. “The Chaplin Fund has been flooded with such requests from India where The Little Tramp is a classic bestseller, and through UFO Movies, we might be able to bring down some restored prints. We’re targetting the third or fourth week February, before the cricket World Cup fever catches on,” informs Surendra Sunjea, Managing Director, Eagle Home Entertainment.
Suneja has, for the first time, brought down several 80-minute Chaplin features on home video. The 11 DVD package includes classics like The Kid, Modern Times, The Circus, The Gold Rush, The Great Dictator, City Lights, The Chaplin Revenue (short films), Monsieur Verdoux, A Woman Of Paris and A King In New York.Suneja points out that, till now, only Chaplin’s short films were available on DVD. Since 1991, some American companies had been importing poor quality prints and companies like Eagle have been retailing them. The exorbitant cost of restoring the prints had prevented the Chaplin Fund and NK2, the exclusive seller of Chaplin content, from entering the Indian market.
“We offered to collaborate with them by sharing the cost of restoration. Work started in February this year. We scanned all the available negatives, cleaned them and then converted them into DVDs,” says Suneja. A collector’s item that entered the market with just 9,000 pieces, is already in the Top 10 charts in every city store, despite its R 2,500 price tag. Sunjea is now negotiating for Alfred Hitchcock thriller, the Confession series and Laurel & Hardy laugh riots. Jane Fonda’s fitness DVD for the 45-plus that is a huge hit in the US and has picked up an Emmy too, is also on the agenda. He says, “Pankaj Kapur’s movie, Happy, has him playing a Chaplinesque character. It’s looking at an early 2011 release and we’re planning something for it.”
Interestingly, it was on December 25, 1977, that the master actor-filmmaker died in his sleep. He was 88 but time hasn’t eroded the black-and-white charm of his movies.