Chintu ka Birthday: A Small Film with a Large Heart

To sum it up: this film will literally blow your mind. Miss it at your own risk, this world is adorable, even if a bit harsh.

RG’s Blog Analysis

Some of the films come like fresh air, yet they take us by storm. This little film will blow your mind. Why would I call this film little, you may ask? It is basically because of the size of the central character – Chintu – who is celebrating his 6th birthday.

The premise is simple – a 6 year old wanting to celebrate his birthday, with a cake and a party, and invite his friends to the same. The conflict – he is in Iraq during the time Saddam Hussain has been captured and US troops are all over the country.

Instead of the usual guests at Chintu’s birthday, there’s a Hassan Mahdi, who is the landlord. He is running away from the military for reasons unknown. There are two soldiers from the US army, Darren has joined in very recently and is more idealistic while Louis is more in-tune with the settings of the place. Waheed and Zainab are two of Chintu’s friends who manage to come to his party in the midst of heavy bombings.

The family – Chintu (played by adorable Vedant Chibber), elder sister Lakshmi (played by Bisha Chaturvedi, another stunning casting), parents Madan Tiwary and Sudha Tiwary (played by excellent as always Vinay Pathak and Tillotama Shome respectively), and Nani (maternal grandmother – played by the always charming Seema Bhargava Pahwa), are all illegal immigrants from Bihar, with Madan Tiwary having found success in his cheap and best water purifier in Iraq.

The film is beautiful owing to the fact that it has simplified history from the voice of a Bihari immigrant’s child Chintu, with inputs from various other characters. How he describes their journey and Saddam and Bush is extraordinary. The writing by Devanshu Kumar and Satyanshu Singh (also the film’s directors) needed that innocence to be able to break down complex politics into simpler bits. Chintu delivers, making it even more special.

Vinay Pathak’s Madan Tiwary is a forever optimistic guy, who is almost too stupid because of his honesty and large heart. Vinay Pathak delivers in a big way. Tillotoma Shome’s Sudha Tiwary is playful, motherly, and strong – a character she delivers with utmost honesty and brilliance. Her scenes with Vinay Pathak are realistically romantic.

Her mother, played by Seema Pahwa, is irritable and yet lovable. Her banter with her granddaughter, daughter, and son-in-law is a treat to watch. Seema Pahwa is in form, which she always is, especially when given a solid backing of a great script. Bisha Chaturvedi’s Lakshmi is a stunning portrayal of an adolescent girl who cares for her family so much, and is mature with the right mix of kiddish nature.

Other characters – Khaled Masso as Hasan Mahdi, Nate Scholz as Darren Reed, Reginald L. Barnes as Louis Jackson, Mehroor Mir as Waheed, and Ameena Afroz as Zainab, complete a perfect casting with no false note in performance anywhere.

What doesn’t work in the film? Perhaps the climax, which is closely linked to morals and idealism. It doesn’t exist in real life, does it? Most of the directors would have ended this film differently. But then, as Andy Dufresne would say ‘Hope is a good thing, may be the best of things, and no good thing ever dies’ (Shawshank Redemption).

To sum it up: this film will literally blow your mind. Miss it at your own risk, this world is adorable, even if a bit harsh.

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