CHENNAI, India (RNS) Hindu activists have blocked an effort to erect a statue of Charlie Chaplin for use in a movie, claiming that a monument to a non-Hindu so close to a temple was offensive.
Hemant Hegde, director of the Kannada-language film “Houseful,” had planned to erect a 67-foot statue of the legendary comedian as a backdrop for dance sequences in his new movie.
“I’m really surprised that people would associate Charlie Chaplin with being a Christian and not allowing the statue,” he told a television news channel.
According to Chaplin’s autobiography, he was a baptized Anglican.
Hegde said the foundation stone for the Chaplin statue had already been laid near the coastal town of Udupi in the southern Karnataka state. However, a group of activists of the Hindu Jagarna Vedike (Hindu Enlightenment Group) arrived and tried to stop construction.
“They said Chaplin was a Christian and they would allow construction of the statue on condition that it would be demolished after the (film’s) shooting. When our art director said Charlie Chaplin was a great artist, they said they suspected that we would also build a statue of Jesus Christ,” Hegde said.
The proposed site of the statue was some 300 yards from the local Hindu temple. The town is well known as a religious and pilgrimage center.
Hegde said he had planned to leave the statue standing after the film shoot as a tourist attraction, but is now on the lookout for new locations. A local lawmaker from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party said there was no place for Chaplin in his region.
“If the locals are against such a statue, I am also against it,” he told the Times of India newspaper. “Why should one bother so much about Charlie Chaplin, who was not even an Indian?”