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The Charlie Doctor
September 29, 2009 2:41 PM   Subscribe

An Indian Doctor's Cure-All: Charlie Chaplin "Aswani's pushing sixty. He's not in great physical shape, thanks to a bad motorcycle accident years ago and also arthritis but he can do the funny walk beautifully." In a story about movies that seems like it would make a good movie itself* (or at least a moving story on This (Non-)American Life), Ashok Aswani, a practitioner of ayurvedic medicine in Adipur, India has taken the phrase "laughter is the best medicine" to its logical conclusion and hands out free DVDs of Chaplin movies to cheer up his patients

Known as "The Charlie Doctor", he's carries a fake moustache in his wallet so he's always prepared to do his imitation of Charlie Chaplin and to cheer himself up. He prays to a large Charlie Chaplin cutout before each meeting of the club he's started locally the Charlie Circle.

* - In fact, filmmaker Kathryn Millard did turn this story into a movie in her documentary The Book Cake.

For full effect, I recommend listening to the story rather than just reading the NPR text.
posted by MCMikeNamara (26 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
He'd probably get better results if Chaplin was funny.
posted by w0mbat at 2:44 PM on September 29, 2009


Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why
several of us died of tuberculosis. - Handey
posted by mullingitover at 2:50 PM on September 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some Indian doctors just cut out the middle man and get right to the laughter.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:57 PM on September 29, 2009


'Motorcycle accident,' eh? That's just a story for the media. He used to give out Steamboat Willie, before three guys in Huey, Dewey and Louie masks gave him that limp.
posted by box at 3:01 PM on September 29, 2009


Unfortunately, my Charlie Doctor's cure has gone down in quality and up in price.
posted by gman at 3:10 PM on September 29, 2009


From the picture in the first link, he looks to me more like Ian McShane than Chaplin.
posted by marsha56 at 3:27 PM on September 29, 2009


He'd probably get better results if Chaplin was funny.

As long as his patients have a better sense of humor than you do, I think they'll be okay.
posted by chlorus at 3:28 PM on September 29, 2009 [6 favorites]


According to Wikipedia, ayurvedic "medicine" is based on the "theory" of the "five great elements", earth, water, fire, air, and ether.

Common treatments include ingestion of various herbs laced with toxic metals, such as lead, mercury, and arsenic. One study found that twenty percent of ayurvedic "medicines" prepared for use in Southeast Asia contained such things.

One of the eight main subdisciplines of ayurvedic "medicine" is how to treat demonic possession.

I am glad that this "doctor" is giving out Charlie Chaplin DVDs. The more time he spends giving out Charlie Chaplin DVDs, the less time he has to give out arsenic.
posted by Flunkie at 3:30 PM on September 29, 2009 [11 favorites]


OK, but Chaplin? Not Raj Kapoor?
posted by Methylviolet at 3:32 PM on September 29, 2009


He'd probably get better results if Chaplin was funny.

Blasphemy.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:33 PM on September 29, 2009


Without the DVDs, no one understood why he kept telling them to eat their shoes.
posted by klangklangston at 3:35 PM on September 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Know who else thought Chaplin was funny?
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:20 PM on September 29, 2009


He'd probably get better results if Chaplin was funny.

Chaplin was funny. So was Punch in the nineteenth century.

They just aren't any more.

(I'd have gone with Buster Keaton myself, if we're talking silent, universal and I think out of copyright. He still is funny.)
posted by IndigoJones at 4:58 PM on September 29, 2009 [5 favorites]


Know who else thought Chaplin was funny?

Not Hitler, if that's what you're implying (at least not after this)

And most Chaplin is still very fall down laughing funny...
posted by cyphill at 5:00 PM on September 29, 2009


I just wanted to say that I'm Linda Wertheimer, in Washington.
posted by not_on_display at 5:03 PM on September 29, 2009


I can so see Michael Steele doing this and declaring it the Republican healthcare plan. It's totally his style, because everyone, outside of mean old Mefites, loves Charlie Chaplin, so it wouldn't piss off Limbaugh.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:14 PM on September 29, 2009


I've said it before and I'll say it again: laughter is not the best medicine for impotence.
posted by mhum at 5:26 PM on September 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


Charlie Chaplin is off copyright? Does Congress know about this?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:23 PM on September 29, 2009


Charlie Chaplin is off copyright? Does Congress know about this?

Actually, he's not. In the U.S. a copyright is extended to 70 years after the author's death, in India it's 60 years. So Chaplin's got a couple decades at least.

Of course this is assuming that they renewed their copyright 28 years after creation per laws pre-'78 but I have a feeling that someone in the estate was probably thinking about that.
posted by cyphill at 8:38 PM on September 29, 2009


Chaplin fact I just learned by accident: he wrote music for Modern Times that (after some other guys added lyrics a couple of decades later) Nat King Cole made a hit. maybe everyone knows that, but it was new to me.
posted by pracowity at 1:15 AM on September 30, 2009


The Charlie Doctor? I'm sure I met him in a club in Hackney once...
posted by pompomtom at 2:22 AM on September 30, 2009


Laughing Cousins? (Of course, he was a Marxist...)
posted by chavenet at 3:38 AM on September 30, 2009


I was worried someone would bring up Norman Cousins. Cousins himself admitted before his death that he likely never actually had ankylosing spondylitis, which is permanent and best managed by NSAIDS and TNF-a inhibitors. More likely he had reactive arthritis, which has similar symptoms but occurs as a response to an acute illness and clears up on its own, laughter or no laughter.

I see this explanation has even made it's way to his Wikipedia page. (Cousins also spread the out and out lie or huge misunderstanding of everything ever known about the disease that AS is very rare and is fatal--it is neither of those things.) On behalf of everybody suffering from AS or any other chronic inflammatory arthritis, let's put that story to rest.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:39 AM on September 30, 2009


My (elderly Indian) father thinks Charlie Chaplin is hilarious. Lots of people his age do. I have cousins who swoon over "Love Story," which I thought was boring and my US-born and raised cousins think is stupid.

Go to India and you will find some people still think wearing Thriller jackets is the coolest, which I thought was "cool" before I came to study here for college in the 90s.
posted by anniecat at 6:48 AM on September 30, 2009


Patch Aswani?
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:41 AM on September 30, 2009


OK, but Chaplin? Not Raj Kapoor?

In Chaplin's defense, Raj Kapoor based a lot of his screen persona on Chaplin's The Tramp. The doc is just going back to the source.
posted by jonp72 at 9:33 AM on September 30, 2009


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