A manual on optimism
75%Overall Score

Streaming on Zee5

We have all had a childhood when birthdays used to be the highlight of our year. We would wear new clothes to school, distribute sweets in the class, and be the single-day celebrity. The icing on the cake would be the party at home with cakes, decorations, and gifts. Chintu ka Birthday is a movie about Chintu (Vedant Chibber) and his plans for this 6th birthday. His 5th birthday was ruined because an American uncle attacked Iraq and Saddam Hussein died. This time, things were going to be different. His dad, Madan Tiwary (Vinay Pathak) had got toffees for him and the class. His sister, Lakshmi (Bisha Chaturvedi) was going to pick up the cake while coming back from school. And he already had some gifts waiting for him to be opened. The day was progressing as planned until the US Military came knocking on the door.

Seeing through a child’s perspective is eye-opening

We have seen movies like Airlift showing how India brought back Indians settled in Iraq during this crisis. But Chintu’s father and his family were illegal immigrants and were unable to return home. The family remains optimistic while shielding their youngest from everything that’s happening around them. He, like his friends, continues to admire Saddam, even letting his friends give him a hand from one of the broken Saddam statues. His friend also gives him a few CDs that spread messages from the local militant organizations. While the family doesn’t do much about it, the trouble starts brewing when the military comes knocking and finds these tokens. What seems like evidence of some nefarious activities, it is simply the story of a family shielding their child.

Vinay Pathak is supported by a fantastic cast

While Vinay Pathak does most of the heavy work, the supporting cast does play its part. Tillotama Shome as Sudha Tiwari and Seema Pahwa as Nani bring a lot of maternal heart into the movie. Bisha Chaturvedi as Lakshmi deserves a special mention. She stands out as a character who has grown up before her time and takes everything in her stride. While the elders of the house are reminiscent of their time in India, Lakshmi is the only one who has fully adjusted to the new normal. Looking at these characters together on screen, you won’t for one moment feel that they are not a real family.

Optimism has no cost

While you go through the trials and tribulations in a day of the Tiwary family, there is one thing that stands out. Apart from nani who seems to be the forever pessimistic kind, the entire family is a living personification of optimism. No matter what is happening, the entire family is full of hope. If the cake shop has shut down, they can make the cake at home. If something is destroyed, you can create something else. All these instances fill us with inspiration at a time when we seem to be experiencing new problems every week.

WATCH OR NOT
There is a trigger warning for anyone who is affected by the protests and the inciting incident in America. You can watch this movie at a later time. For everyone else, Chintu ka Birthday is a lesson in going forward when everything seems to be going against you. It takes the most horrible of situations and makes you see them through the eyes of a child who only wants to celebrate his birthday.

Directors: Devanshu Kumar, Satyanshu Singh
Writers: Devanshu Kumar, Satyanshu Singh
Cast: Vinay Pathak, Tillotama Shome, Seema Pahwa, Bisha Chaturvedi, Vedant Chibber, Khalid Massou, Reginald L Barnes, Nathan Scholz
Language: Hindi
Streaming on: Zee5