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If Charlie Chaplin Movies Were Made in Present-Day India

A ‘Modern Times’ for our own digital times!

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If Charlie Chaplin, the comic actor best known for his silent films and biting satire, were to make his films in contemporary India, what would they be like?

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When ‘The Gold Rush’ is Demonetisation

The thought of bank notes going out of use suddenly one day still gives us desis nightmares. The bank lines, the empty ATMs, and the long, long wait have become the stuff of legends.

If Chaplin were to make a movie about it, this is perhaps what it would look like.

Counting ‘em old bank notes in frustration.

A ‘Modern Times’ for our own digital times!
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Reaching the bank only to be pushed and shoved.

A ‘Modern Times’ for our own digital times!
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Finally getting your hands on the new Rs 2,000 note.

A ‘Modern Times’ for our own digital times!
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The long lines at the bank during demonetisation reminded one of the opening sequence of Chaplin’s The Gold Rush (1925).

The movie was inspired by the Klondike Gold Rush — a migration by an estimated 100,000 people to the Klondike region in Canada between 1896 and 1899, where gold was discovered by local miners.

A ‘Modern Times’ for our own digital times!
Chaplin’s The Gold Rush was inspired by the Klondike Gold Rush.
(Photo Courtesy: Cantwell, George G/Wikimedia Commons)
It shows Chaplin’s signature ‘tramp’ figure turn a gold-digger determined to face every challenge, including sickness, hunger, loneliness, and even the possibility of being attacked by a bear.

The movie, if remade in India today, could depict the plight of the people who lined up for hours at banks and ATMs at the time of demonetisation, to get their hands on the new currency notes.

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A ‘Modern Times’ for Our Digital Times

If Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936) were made in our modern times — where the internet is indispensable to one’s existence and one’s privacy is no longer assured thanks to continual data theft and leaks — here’s how it would look like.

Altering phone settings for maximum privacy.

A ‘Modern Times’ for our own digital times!
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Realising that you are a slave to technology.

A ‘Modern Times’ for our own digital times!
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Modern Times is a dark comedy on the desperate economic condition of people during the Great Depression and the failures of modern industrialisation.

A ‘Modern Times’ for our own digital times!
Modern Times is about “humanity crusading in the pursuit of happiness”, which if remade for our times could very well be about “humanity crusading in the pursuit of happiness in the digital world.”
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‘The Kid’ in the Face of CBSE Retests

From data leaks to paper leaks, contemporary India has it all!

When the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) announced retests for Class 10 Mathematics and Class 12 Economics board examinations, students and parents took to the streets and to social media to express their anger and frustration.

When you think exams are over but CBSE announces retests.

A ‘Modern Times’ for our own digital times!
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Your parents try to tell you that it will be okay.

A ‘Modern Times’ for our own digital times!
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When CBSE cancels retests for Class 10 students but not for Class 12.

A ‘Modern Times’ for our own digital times!
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If there is one Chaplin movie that CBSE students and parents must watch, it is The Kid (1921). The film explores, among other things, the relationship between parents and children.

Chaplin’s character becomes the adoptive parent of an abandoned child. Aptly subtitled, “A picture with a smile — and perhaps, a tear,” the film is a blend of comedy and tragedy.

A ‘Modern Times’ for our own digital times!

The movie can inspire an Indian version minus the over exaggerated sentimentality of the parent-child relationship that Bollywood endorses.

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Aadhaar Data Breach at ‘The Bank’

News of Aadhaar data breach now is met with a despondent, “What’s new?”. Time and again the government has failed to protect the personal information of its citizens.

The government trying to protect your Aadhar data

A ‘Modern Times’ for our own digital times!
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Citizens trying to protect their personal data

A ‘Modern Times’ for our own digital times!
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Chaplin’s The Bank (1915) is a lesser known film, where Chaplin, as a janitor in a bank, creates havoc, spreading important papers everywhere, while trying to mop the floors. The movie is also about fantasy-making.

Indian ministers, post repeated Aadhaar data breaches, also created similar havoc in an attempt to cover up, at times claiming that no breach happened at all.

Attorney General KK Venugopal also said that the Aadhaar data was safe behind a complex with 5-foot thick and 13-foot tall walls. If that isn’t fantasy-making, then what is?

Time to make an Indian version of Chaplin’s The Bank?

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A ‘Modern Times’ for our own digital times!

Finally, considering everything else that is happening in contemporary India, if there is one Chaplin movie that deserves to be remade here, it is The Great Dictator (1940).

Enough said.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Adolf Hitler   Hitler   Charlie Chaplin 

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