What happens when the common ordinary man feels emotionally marooned because they are all trapped in a world of chaos and war? It could be a migrant Indian family desperate to go back home from a war laden Iraq, but their employer has opportunistically tricked them and their government has conveniently forgotten them. It could be a native Iraqi whose life has been shattered in the hands of an autocratic ruler and then by an unwarranted foreign invasion. It could be the trapped American soldier of the frontline whose inherent human instinct is long lost amidst all the violence and bloodshed but is desperately seeking a revival. Or it could simply be a young six year old boy whose innocent ask from life is to get his birthday celebrated, but last two years has robbed him of such simple joys of life. The new Zee5 Original film Chintu ka Birthday is a story of all such broken, marooned people who are desperate to cling on to life and its small gifts, however illusive they might be.
The film works because its simple premise weaves in its message on the futility of war and the strength of family bonding in the most adverse times, without trying to be too preachy, sugary sweet or forcefully melodramatic. The close knit family – the parents, the elder sister, the grand mother, and the birthday boy have their own sets of problems, but they are all trying to be there for the other, remain accommodative, and internalize the pain of being stuck in a warzone. They are also ladened by a sense of guilt in their own ways because they have not been able to light up the family with as much joy and happiness on a day to day basis as they would have wanted. We see shades of that in the father, the mother, the sister, and even little Chintu. And it is not just a sense of guilt for the family. Somewhere the Iraqi landlord possibly also finds himself guilty of possibly being not able to save his wife from this chaos and hence is trying to find solace in the home that his Indian tenants have been able to make off his house. Possibly the American soldiers are reeling under their own sense of guilt as they don’t understand themselves why they are fighting this war and becoming the bad guys for innocent citizens. The celebration of Chintu’s birthday hence becomes a desperate symbolic redemption for the family (and the others too) and a momentary sign of human spirit overcoming everything that is disruptive and melancholy around us. And the family wants to include everyone in that party of life and spread positivity. Yes, that possibly doesn’t make it the most hard hitting cinema or something that will stay with you for long, but in such times of everyday brutality, one can’t question the motivations to light a candle and spread some cheer.
The makers Satyanshu Singh and Devangshu Kumar truly believe that you can find joy in small things of life with limited resources. Just like Chintu’s family, they make use of a shoe string budget to make a war film. Everything is shot indoors, and a very effective sound design aided with a sparse production design is able to create the atmospherics of the trouble outside. The use of animation to breeze past the backstory is also smart use of resources. The writing is predictable, is driven too much by the heart, but doesn’t go too overboard to become distracting. The solid performances by the cast further helps to ground the milieu. Vinay Pathak is especially excellent in his earnestness, and Tilottama Shome remains as lovely as ever, though it is surprising that an actor of her calibre goes inconsistent with the accent in a couple of places. A lovely song that she sings for her Chintu is one of the high points of the film. As is the the natural innocence of Vedant Chibber that elevates the film in its most despondent times. After all, he is the little joy of life that everyone is trying to cling to amidst the futile war – of the mind and of the times. And that isn’t a bad thing to aspire for in the reality of today.
So yes, please get yourself self invited to Chintu ka Birthday on Zee5.
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