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‘Chintu ka Birthday’ movie review: Life is not so beautiful

A still from ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’

A still from ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’  

Though well-intended, the film doesn’t rise above being a facile take against war

The lasting impression one gets from Chintu Ka Birthday, is that it’s way too static. Agreed that it’s a small budget film, with Iraq recreated in India, where action is confined to the interiors of a home and the conflict outside brought in through sounds and voices, not seen but heard, but there could have been some dynamism in the characters and their equations and movement in this shut-in world. Even stage performances and teleplays have some propulsion that keeps you in their grip. Unfortunately any sense of urgency is entirely missing in Chintu Ka Birthday.

 

It’s 2004, and Chintu and his family are stuck in Iraq at the time of Saddam Hussain’s fall in 2004. It’s his sixth birthday and he wants to celebrate it with his friends but things don’t quite go as planned. Each of the characters here is flat and cardboard than fleshed-out, more a “type” than rounded or whole. This same applies, for their relationships and interactions. Whether it’s the goodie goodie Indian family or their nice Iraqi landlord or the Hollywood derived American soldiers. The one element on point, to some extent is the lingo and the accent. The film has fine actors filling in, in each of these roles—Vinay Pathak, Tillotama Shome and Seema Pahwa —yet there seems to be no spark or vitality. Neither individually, nor in their give and take with each other. The actor, who stands out, is Bisha Chaturvedi as the older daughter, who, even in a small role, shows more fluidity than the otherwise staccato, wooden scenario.

Chintu Ka Birthday
  • Director: Devanshu Kumar and Satyanshu Singh
  • Cast: Vinay Pathak, Tillotama Shome, Seema Pahwa, Bisha Chaturvedi, Vedant Chibber
  • Run time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Storyline: It’s 2004 and Chintu and his family are stuck in Iraq at the time of Saddam Hussain’s fall

An anti-war stand is noble alright, so too the portrayal of the effect of war on an ordinary family but it’s in how you bring it alive on screen that is just as significant. Chintu Ka Birthday lacks the freshness and vision and artistic leap and is way too facile an exploration of war or the attendant issues. Whether it’s the American soldiers forgotten by their own country or their friendship with the local kids. It’s a film that doesn’t dig deep enough. It might be well intended but the film is also acutely aware of its own noble intent. Righteousness can be a big downer and it leaps out from every other frame. Rather than speak to its audience, Chintu Ka Birthday left me entirely not invested and very disinterested.

Chintu ka Birthday is streaming on Zee5

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 8:52:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/chintu-ka-birthday-movie-review-life-is-not-so-beautiful/article31764444.ece

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