Two days ago while driving my scooter in the main road of Manipal (Karnataka) an auto overtook me. I was angered by the way he overtook from the left side (wrong side). With great anger I looked at the auto. By then the auto was right ahead of me. As I was staring at the auto in anger my eyes caught the Chaplin face at the back of the auto. My eyebrows hit the sky in surprise. I couldnt believe that I was seeing a Chaplin photo behind an auto in Manipal where almost all autos have NaMo face or praises like Mera Bharath Mahaan, Jai Karnataka, Brahma Baidarkala, Jai Shri Raam, Vartey Panjurli or some other local deities at their back. In such a setting seeing Chaplin’s face was extremely exciting, thrilling and in a strange way relieving too. There was a text written next to the photo of Chaplin. I turned the accelerator to see what it was. The auto fellow, I guess, thought I was in a hurry and wanted to go ahead. He slowed down to make way for me to go ahead. Thanks to him slowing down. I too slowed down and saw properly. It was a Chaplin quote. As I was reading it the auto took a right turn and I had to go straight.
From two days now every auto that I see I check if its the same Chaplin auto. I am looking for that auto. I am searching for Chaplin.
As I am looking for Chaplin, I realize, I am also looking for a break from the fascist face, from nationalist, statist and religious matters making space for themselves through images and texts. I am looking, I realize, for a new imagesphere (kindly permit me use the term) which is more humanitarian and more inclusive.
As I continue looking for Chaplin amidst the NaMo faces and images and texts that are jingoist, statist, nationalist, religious, castist I am reminded of the famous speech from Chaplin’s film The Great Dictator where he says, “To those who can hear me, I say ‘Do not despair.’ The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.”
The search for Chaplin continues… There is no despair.