Star Cast: Vedant Raj Chibber, Vinay Pathak, Tillotama Shome, Seema Pahwa, Bisha Chaturvedi, Khalid Massou, Reginald L Barnes, Nathan Scholz
Director: Satyanshu Singh, Devanshu Singh
What’s Good: It reminded me of ‘Life Is Beautiful’ & ‘Jo Jo Rabbit’. Do you need any more reasons?
What’s Bad: Nothing. Maybe a thing or two didn’t click but won’t call them bad.
Loo Break: YOU WON’T NEED IT!
Watch or Not?: Go Back to ‘What’s Good’ and decide.
Let’s first take a moment to appreciate the zest, dedication and precision of the team of Chintu Ka Birthday, who have lived with it for 10 years, a decade you people! Backed by AIB First Draft, and went through some rejections due to the #MeToo row (against AIB), Chintu Ka Birthday has finally found its home.
Set in a war-torn Iraq of 2004, the film is about an illegal immigrant Bihari family stuck in Baghdad due to circumstances. It’s Chintu’s sixth birthday, and he doesn’t want to miss celebrating it like the last one when America invaded Iraq and the country went at war. While the family is prepping for the celebration, a bomb sets off in the neighbourhood. Two American soldiers enter the house to investigate the blast, and Chintu’s father gets framed as the convict. Do they celebrate Chintu Ka Birthday in this situation is the film?
Chintu Ka Birthday Movie Review: Script Analysis
Chintu Ka Birthday reminded me of two things. First, a quote from a war Poet Mahmoud Darwish that reads, “No night is long enough for us to dream twice”. Second, one of my favourite classics ‘Life is Beautiful’. Chintu’s birthday is a metaphor to the flower that dares to grow on a battlefield.
This is an Indian family stuck in Iraq. Trying hard to prove to the Indian government, that they are Indians and they need to be evacuated. The father (played by an earnest Vinay Pathak) considers himself responsible for putting his family into this turmoil. The film is a celebration of humanity and innocence amid a place that has lost it. This very point makes the Tiwari house (where the film is set in) the only place where humans with heart live.
Writer-director duo Satyanshu Singh and Devanshu Singh, create a story that does highlight the effects of war, children losing their childhood, immigrants paying the cost for something they didn’t sign up for, government giving a side-eye to its citizens and much more. But the focus at the core of it is celebrating small joys between the destruction that surrounds them.
You are never taken out of the house. Just once, that too through amazing animation. Everything happens within a 2 BHK. But the writers cleverly tell you what’s going on. The bombs, sirens and bullets (that make the BGM) remind you what’s happening outside those four walls. When Chintu’s friend (a boy who sells porn and hash grown by his father) comes in and has befriended an American army officer, you realise how childhood no longer exists. Or when he introduces his girlfriend to the officer, and says, “she goes to school you destroyed this morning.” You see what war has done to mankind, children especially.
And in the centre of all this is Chintu, the heart-breaking innocence, that does not look at anything as wrong. His only worry is his birthday celebration. Because his father has promised him that. Chintu reminded me of Yorki from Jojo Rabbit. I wish they meet in a parallel universe someday. I will watch that film!
Do you know what the best part is? The writing isn’t preaching, or going OTT to tell you what’s going on. It’s subtle to worry about a burnt cake while a car is burning outside the door. It’s subtle for a mother, whose way of showing affection is in serving food to her son.
Chintu Ka Birthday Movie Review: Star Performance
While Satyanshu and Devanshu’s writing has all the elements to move us, the actors bring more depth to it. Vinay Pathak and his guilt-ridden demeanour hit me hard. Vedant Chibbar as Chintu has most innocent clueless eyes. You will want to hug him and tell him, this too shall pass. Their chemistry together is what brought back the flashes of Life Is Beautiful for me.
Tillotama Shome as the mother is added to my list of favourite mothers. For sure the most underrated actor, Tillotama embodies this woman whose even body language depicts pain. Seema Pahwa as a partly irritating, partly lovable grandmother is relatable and needs no validation. Bisha Chaturvedi as the strong but loving sister is bliss.
Coming to the special mentions, Reginald L Barnes and Nathan Scholz, who play the two soldiers. The guys aren’t any different depiction of the American soldiers but do a good job.
Chintu Ka Birthday Movie Review: Direction, Music
The writer duo also holds the director credits. Shout out to their skills, that they do not let you blink even once in the limited area they have to play. Shot in a limited budget, there isn’t any sign of compromise. The decision to not show the outer world even once did wonders.
Cinematography by Siddharth Diwan is a winner. If you are an observant watcher, observe the long takes that he goes for. The camera follows the actors in the scene without cuts and of course performers deserve the credit for this too.
Chintu Ka Birthday does not have a background score. The blasts and gunshots become the BGM. Though there is a beautiful song, a lullaby, that Tillotama and Seema sing. God, that scene! This one will stay with me for quite some time.
Though the end did not have a big impact, as I could predict it. But the journey was what I loved.
Chintu Ka Birthday Movie Review: The Last Word
After all that I have said, if you still aren’t convinced, may god give you some emotions. This is one of those films that will tell you that the lockdown you are in right now, is nothing compared to what Chintu and family are in. Watch it for hope, watch it for a family that does not let the love die. Does Chintu finally celebrates his birthday? Watch it to know that too!
Four and A Half Stars!
Chintu Ka Birthday Trailer
Chintu Ka Birthday releases on 5th June 2020.
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