Srila Prabhupada enjoyed watching Charlie Chaplin

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Srila Prabhupada Nectar | Satsvarupa dasa Goswami

In the summer of 1971, Indradyumna däsa accompanied Srila Prabhupada on his flight to London, where he was to attend the Ratha-yatra festival. On the flight, a film was shown—an old silent film of Charlie Chaplin. When the film began, Indradyumna dasa began reading the Bhagavad-gita, but he noticed that Srila Prabhupada, who was sitting two seats away, was watching the film and chuckling. Indradyumna felt a little confused, since he knew devotees were not supposed to watch movies, but seeing Prabhupada’s appreciation of the film, he stopped reading and laughed along with Prabhupada and his servant at Charlie Chaplin’s humor.

When the film was over, Indradyumna met Pradyumna dasa at the back of the plane and asked why Srila Prabhupada was laughing during the film. Pradyumna said he would go and ask Prabhupada. He soon returned smiling and said, “Prabhupäda said that Krishan is the original source of everything, and since Charlie Chaplin’s humor was original, he could appreciate Krishna there.” Indradyumna returned to his seat, appreciating how Srila Prabhupada saw Krishna everywhere.

Room Conversation | August 1, 1972, London

Devotee (2): Charlie Chaplin kept us up all night.
Prabhupada: Hm.
Devotee (2): Charlie Chaplin kept us up all night. (laughs) Charlie Chaplin show.
Prabhupada: Hm. That was nice. (laughter) He is really funny man. (laughs) He has got originality. All his comic play has got some originality, that is the beauty. How he invented! (laughs) I think that character, when he was a drunkard, he was a great friend, (laughs) and when he’s not drunkard, “Who is this man?” (laughs) He’s grave(?) as rich man. And as drunkard, “You pay. You are my friend, life-long friend. Whatever you want, you take.” (laughs) So these characters he’s painting, it’s very good intelligence. And he made him friend when he was going to commit suicide.
Devotee (1): Yeah, he stopped him.
Prabhupada: He stopped him. Accidentally he stopped. (laughs) Not willingly.
Devotee (2): Yes. He tried to pull him up from the water, he went in himself.
Prabhupada: It is very nice, funny man with intelligence. And before him there was another, Mr. Max Linder.
Devotee: Max Linder.
Prabhupada: Yes. He was also very funny Englishman. In our childhood we used to enjoy their play, Max Linder and Chaplin, or Charlie Chaplin.
Devotee: They were showing them in India?
Prabhupada: Uh? Yes. Max Linder, I remember, he was sitting in a park. (laughter) You know that?
Devotee: I don’t know anything about it.
Prabhupada: He was sitting in a park, so that English dress, that tail coat? What is called?
Devotee: Coattails, yeah.
Prabhupada: So the tail was hanging, so some naughty boys, they fixed up nails, you see? So when he got up, the whole tail gone, you see? But he could not understand. He went to the ball dance. So he’s dancing, so everyone’s seeing his tail, in this way. So he thought, “Oh, what is the matter?” He went to the mirror and he saw, “Oh, my tail is lost.” (laughs) Then he came again in the ball dance and he was pushing everyone, just to show. And everyone was asking, “What is this? What is this?” “Oh, you do not know? This is latest fashion. This is latest fashion.” Then all of them cut the tails. I think he had taken the idea, (Sanskrit). This is Sanskrit story, that (Sanskrit), or monkey, he lost his tail, and he began to advertise, “This is the latest fashion.” So that ball-dancing without tail, that was, I remember, it is very enjoyable. They say that Charlie Chaplin is the student of Max Linder. He learned this funny play from Max Linder. So I knew Charlie Chaplin is an Englishman.
Devotee: Yes, he is.
Prabhupada: He is Englishman.
Devotee (2): He went to America and then he made all these films.
Prabhupada: Huh?
Devotee: He went to America and he made a lot of money there.
Indian: As far as I know, Prabhupada, he was Jew, but he used to live in east of London, or south of London. There is an autobiography about it.
Prabhupada: Max Linder, ah, Charlie Chaplin? Yes. He was a London man.
Devotee: But that movie was filmed in Los Angeles, the one we saw last night. In Hollywood. All the palm trees and the (indistinct) behind.
Indian (Ksirodaksayi?): One of the elder sons, he’s still living in Hampstead Heath.
Prabhupada: Oh, his eldest son. And where he is, Charlie Chaplin?
Devotee: In America.
Prabhupada: In America?
Devotee: He’s in Switzerland.
Indian: No, no, he lives in Europe somewhere. Switzerland, most… Sometimes coming in Hampstead Heath.
Prabhupada: He has got a big family?
Devotee: Yes.
Prabhupada: You said that he’s producing a still child?
Devotee: Yeah, he produced last year, or two years ago. It was in Life magazine.
Prabhupada: Hm. (pause)
Devotee: It’s already about 10:30.
Prabhupada: All right.
Devotees: All glories to Srila Prabhupada. (devotees leave)