A fan of actor-filmmaker Charlie Chaplin has just discovered that it is not a joke dealing with Indian babudom.
Hemant Hegde set out to build a statue of Chaplin, partly as a tribute to his idol and partly to lend some glamour to his Kannada film House Full. “Diganth (an actor) and I play two idiots and the film is about our misadventures,” said Hegde. “We wanted to build the statue and hand it over to the tourism department so that people would remember our tribute even years later.”
But Hegde’s plans are stuck in red tape.
On Friday, the film unit put up a shack and dug a pit for a pedestal for the 60-foot-high statue at Paduvari village, 150 km north of Mangalore. But they had to pack up because the official permission was not in hand.
Besides, the spot was in front of a temple, at a place where pilgrims park vehicles and from where they walk down towards the sanctum sanctorum.
On Saturday, the crew drove away in search of another spot in Uttara Kannada district for the statue.
“The deputy commissioner told me to get a no-objection certificate from the police and the forest department, but every official wants me to wait,” said Hegde. “They tell me to go ahead but won’t give me that official letter of sanction. Can a man wait for years for permission? The villagers said, ‘We don’t want to see a Christian before we enter the temple.’”
Hemalatha, deputy commissioner, Udupi, said she agreed to allow the shooting but asked them to wait for the construction plans to be approved.
Suresh Batawadi, a member of the Paduvari gram panchayat, who led a protest to stop the construction of Chaplin’s statue in front of the temple, said the film crew was told to find another place and get permission from the district administration. “We told them to look around for alternative places but they left in a huff,” said Batawadi. “How can we speak against Christians when we’ve many families living here? I think this is some publicity gimmick for his film.”