Directors Devanshu and Satyanshu Singh give a serious backdrop of international affairs amid a sweet and lovely scenario
This is not your regular film. Firstly for the fact that it’s released exclusively. It’s not promoted on a larger scale. And also, it’s a rare phenomenon that you happen to watch something so genuinely heart-warming. Chintu Ka Birthday is essentially a story of a family living in their own world in a territory that’s otherwise so predictably unpredictable. So when you look at the film from cinematic, cultural, and political aspects, the story seems to have found the essence. Bet you, you won’t be able to hold your tears back.
It’s 2004. Baghdad. US-led allied forces have been in Iraq for a year now. All Indians have been evacuated, or so as the government says. But for immigrants, constant fear looms. It’s Chintu’s (Vedant Chibber) 6th birthday today. The family is preparing for a party in the evening. But will the widespread violence right outside let little Chintu have his moment of joy?
The film is produced by the popular figures of comedy- Tanmay Bhat, Rohan Joshi, Gursimran Khamba, and Ashish Shakya- all from AIB. Written by the directors themselves, this is a story that doesn’t come quite often. What happens at a miniscule level as a result of decisions made somewhere else, with an altogether different intent, is what the film tells you. A small world trying to be only happy surrounded by a big one full of power and greed. Beautiful thought.
How do you live around something so scary? How do you remain happy? How do you manage to even breathe when any moment can be your last? What happens when you crave to go home and aren’t able to? It’s when the palpable tension that the characters feel transfers to your minds and hearts, only then does the film become a beauty.
The film paints childhood for you. Innocence. Playfulness. Happiness. All in one. And then there is faith in humanity and kindness. Don’t question the ambition of the plot here. When the larger motive is a life changing lesson, viability of the plot is of course secondary.
Apart from the remarkable message, the film also gives you so much to appreciate in terms of film elements. The set up, the position of the characters, their mind sets, their cultural backdrop, and the oral and visual language of the film.
The family in consideration is from Bihar settled in Baghdad for many years now. Why and how did that happen has been told sweetly by the makers. The tone of the film remains happy for a major part of the first half, where the typical Bihari accent conveys the characters’ mental position. And just when you are enjoying a folk song sung by Chintu’s mother and nani, you are shaken, just like your characters.
The biggest plus of the film is the writing which takes you along with its characters. The stake in question is a mere birthday celebration. But why is that so important an issue? Watch the film and you’ll know. Indeed, the simplicity is ruined in turbulent times and all what matters is to snatch some precious moments from destiny.
Strictly for niche audience, the film is for only those who’ll handpick this one among other releases. For the rest, this won’t be even known.
The protagonist is Vedant Chibber. Extremely lovable. Adorable to the highest degree. This films belongs to him despite some of the best actors of the fraternity. The way he mouths some of his lines, you give your heart to him.
Vinay Pathak is brilliant. As always. He is a father who will do anything for one small thing. The determination has been portrayed by Pathak by such conviction that you’ll forget that he is just acting. Lifting the narrative on his shoulders, he becomes a symbol of goodness with his actions. And Pathak makes you want to embrace him. Similarly, Tilotama Shome as the mother hits that chord in your heart. With only her eyes, she commands your attention and respect for her as an actor.
Seema Pahwa also is wonderful in a role that seems to have been penned just for her.
Bisha Chaturvedi as Lakshmi, Chintu’s elder sister is effervescent and the loveliest in the lot of actors. She smiles, you find your face lit up. She cries, you feel your world has come shattering down. She’s brought the passion and love for her brother on screen with great sincerity. She is truly amazing. Seems a matured actor displaying her genius before you.
Khalid Massou in a strong supporting role is also genuine. His character has shades and a surprise element. You love him a lot.
Nate Scholz and Reginald Barnes have also done exceptionally well. You fear them. You accept them. You like them.
Music by Benedict Taylor and Naren Chandavarkar hits the right notes, majorly through soulful background score, which occurs only at some key junctures. Biswadeep Deepak Chatterjee’s sound design is something that creates a haunting aura. Near perfect. The film is real only because there is ambiance to be heard.
Camera by Siddharth Diwan is simple, yet engages you with the themes of the film working at many levels. The production design by Sukant Panigrahy is first rate. The setting of the story in a far off land, but keeping its roots earthy is one of the very noble parts of the film. Shot in just one house, the film makes you live the space.
Editing by Charu Sree Roy is clear and straight. Nothing less. Even in 84 mins of run time, you feel you’ve explored someone’s world culturally. Could you ask for more? The film gives you chills and shocks, and also ample points to savor the feeling.
This is a film about goodness. About faith. About hope. Never ending hope. About how to smile. At a time when audiences crave for quality cinema, it’s a question of serious concern on why such films don’t make any sound. A lot of this depends on the makers here. Hardly anybody knows about the film, when in fact this should be watched by one and all. Sad. Unfair.