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Chintu Ka Birthday review

By JOGINDER TUTEJA
June 09, 2020 14:02 IST
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'What impresses about this sweet-n-simple tale is the manner in which this production has been put together with an economical narrative by first time directors Devanshu Kumar and Satyanshu Singh,' notes Joginder Tuteja.

If you went to school in the '80s and '90s, you would remember how distributing sweets in school was one of the most exciting things about your birthday.

One sweet each for the classmates, two for the class teacher and four for the best friend -- that's how the arithmetic worked.

No wonder, you will relate to six-year-old, wide-eyed, Chintu (Vedant Chibber), who missed his fifth birthday celebrations with friends and is now looking forward to having his cake, and eating it too.

The only spoiler? Well, he is the son of Bihari parents who moved from India to Iraq in order to sell 'pure filter water' and have now found caught in the midst of George W Bush's invasion of Iraq and the subsequent unrest that has followed after Saddam Hussein's downfall.

 

This time around, Chintu doesn't want to miss the celebrations.

His family -- comprising of an ever-positive father (Vinay Pathak), homemaker mother (Tillotama Shome) who isn't interested in having a third kid till she gets back to India, a teenage sister (Bisha Chaturvedi), who still believes in making lifesize poster greetings on her own and a granny (Seema Pahwa), who is wondering whether the lure of a one-way international flight to Iraq was worth it after all -- is supporting him too.

So the family plans a few surprises for Chintu, which also includes fixing a rusty oven.

But all hell breaks loose when a car bomb explodes in the vicinity and American soldiers (Reginald L Barnes and Nathan Scholz) barge into the family's rented accommodation which belongs to an Iraqi local (Khalid Massou).

What impresses about this sweet-n-simple tale is the manner in which this production has been put together with an economical narrative by first time directors Devanshu Kumar and Satyanshu Singh.

Lasting just 80 minutes, this movie set in a house and enlivened by the smart use of sound design and background score.

Picture this, there is war happening around the house -- there are helicopters whirling, bombs exploding, bullets screeching, and yet none of that is ever shown.

You witness everything through the use of sound and the expressions on the faces of the protagonists.

Vinay Pathak impresses the most.

One would have thought that Vedant would be the most impressive, but for some strange reasons, he is made to smile only when he says 'shukran' ('thank you' in Arabic) and maintain a poker face otherwise.

Bisha Chaturvedi is far more likeable than him. Even better is the Arabic classmate Mehroos Mir, who comes later on the scene. He makes an instant impression, and how!

Chintu Ka Birthday maintains a constant pace throughout, with some bit of action, courtesy the American actors who play soldiers. They are good, but for some reason, they keep mouthing profanities, which rob the narrative of its innocence and make it an 'for adults only' affair.

Really, the film could well have done without that and retained its charm.

Rediff Rating:

 

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