We have been hearing about Ramsingh Charlie on the festival circuit for quite some time now and finally, this much-delayed film sees the light of day through OTT release. As the name suggests, the film is a tribute to the soul of Charlie Chaplin. It is also a tribute to circus artists and artists. The number of circuses is decreasing day by day. Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam brought out the grandeur of the Joker Circus when the charm of such entertainment was at its peak. Ramsingh Charlie reveals the decline of the medium which is found today by very few people. It weaves a story around the helpless ex-employees of a popular circus when it goes off. Its protagonist Ramsingh becomes a rickshaw driver in Kolkata, two dwarfs become watchmen at once and a perpetual joke. The depiction of their fate in the film is more poignant than the reality of today’s migrant labor situation. Millions of people have lost their livelihoods, and have to resort to odd jobs to make ends meet.
Ramsingh (Kumud Mishra) is a child of the circus. He has completed the acting of Charlie Chaplin and hence everyone calls him Charlie. As soon as he said this, he forgot his name. The film can be said to be his journey from Charlie to Ramsingh as he makes his way in real life. His former employer warned him that he is ill for the outside world and this actually proves it initially. He has no money and therefore has to send his pregnant wife to her ancestral village. He cannot do any kind of job and pull the rickshaw away. This reunites him with the character of Balraj Sahni from Do Bigha Zameen (1953), who also draws a rickshaw to realize his dream of having a small piece. Although the dream here is somewhat different – Ramsingh wants to own a circus – the difficulties faced by the two are more or less the same. Nothing seems to have changed between 1953 and today for the common man. And so, the film does not seem dated despite the delay in release.
Each member of this ensemble can be Salima Raza, owner of Sympathy Circus, who has to shut down her business because her son insists that the losses have been going on for years, with her insensitive son (Akash Khurana, who Is only) interested in making a profit, with Midget Short (Lilliput) and Kat (KK Goswami), who bear insults on him, violinist Jaydev (Surendra Rajan) and Street Shah Jahan (Farooq Siyar) with patience, Joe Ramsingh Let’s help initially, but later shows his dark side, getting his share of Limelight and adding to the film through his stunning performance.
Divya Dutta shines as Ramsingh’s wife Kajri. Like her, she is also a child of the circus. She knows him inside and out and she is both his support and his Saraswati. His body language, his silence, his eyes are more emotional than his dialogue. It is strange that the director supports the patriarchy and Ramsingh turns him down, when he suggests that she too can make money by sewing clothes. Divya is also expelled from the village and Charlie is left to struggle alone in Kolkata. Perhaps the director wanted to focus more on Charlie’s beloved Trump personality and so he focused more on Kumud Mishra. He is a consummate artist, no doubt and brings out the grim reality of the Joker through his nuanced performance. He does not have to go over the top in both tragic and comic scenes, a lift of the eyebrow, a subtle change in expression enough to convey it all. The actor portrays the lives of comic actors everywhere – be it Charlie Chaplin or Robin Williams or your average stand-up comedian, tries his best to entertain the crowd. The pain, the pain is forgotten once the greasepaint is applied, the only thing that matters is the performance…