Exploring the universal appeal of Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp, Australian helmer Kathryn Millard’s modest docu “The Boot Cake” focuses on one of India’s most quixotic fellowships, the Charlie Circle of Adipur, whose members are dedicated to Chaplin and the philosophy of life expressed by his films. Structured as an essay narrated by Millard, pic mixes interviews, archival footage and animation with her quest to bring a cake in the shape of boot (a la “The Gold Rush”) to Adipur’s annual Chaplin birthday celebration. The material feels overstretched at 74 minutes, but a shorter cut might tempt international pubcasters.
Pic gives too much screen time to Charlie Circle founder Ashok Aswani, an Ayurvedic doctor who often prescribes watching Chaplin DVDs. He compares Chaplin with the Hindu god Krishna and prays to him at a shrine in his home. Interviews with Chaplin impersonators Prevan Kamate and Viswajeet Devnath also wear thin. More interesting is archival footage of early 20th-century Australian and Mexican Chaplin mimics and India’s own little man, Raj Kapoor. Tech package pays tribute to silent cinema via clever use of title cards and a jaunty score.