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Chintu Ka Birthday A Mildly Touching One-Act Play

Chintu Ka Birthday

Starring Vinay Pathak, Tilottama Shome

Directed  by  Devanshu Kumar,Satyanshu Singh

Rating: ** ½

Chintu is 6.  And  his birthday turns out to be more adventurous than the  little  boy  expected it to be.

As written by  the co-directors  , Chintu Ka  Birthday is actually a one-act play masquerading as a  motion picture. The  film set  in post-Saddam Iraq in 2004 is about an Bihari water-filter salesman, played by  the very  talented Vinay Pathak who is struck in Iran(Baghdad?) with his  family.

No, this is not a film  about the  Tiwary  family fleeing war-torn Iran. The made-for-miniature-viewing product has neither the vision nor the resources to  pull  off an Airlift. So Akshay can  breath  easy. Instead  this is a film about the  6-year old son Chintu’s birthday  being disrupted  by  American soldiers barging into the Tiwary  household  .

Much of what ensues thereafter   is not only  predictable  but also pedestrian. Shukla’s  Madan Tiwary bends backwards to be civil to the  unwanted  guests, and really, we all know how this will pan out(hint: macho soldiers with massive guns also have a heart). What saves this drama  from descending  into dreariness  is  the  gifted multi-racial  cast   and some moments when  the  plot’s  overweening virtuousness makes way for some authentic  dramatic tension.

I specially liked Tilottama Shome scolding her  whining  complaining mother (Seema Pahva, wasted) and when her  kind husband  tries to stop her Shome smirks, “It’s okay  the  old lady needs  to be given a  dose  now and then.”

 Despite the cramped one-set  environment and  a  determined bid  to  uphold  the  plot’s Popsicle  politics,  Shome  and Tiwary manage to  make their characters  rounded  grounded and  believable.

All else is treacly and over-sweetened   in this  story  where the condensed  milk of human kindness  flows in  a syrupy  stream. There are  interesting Iranian cast members who  seem to be in this for   the fun, though the promised  birthday party  never happens. The two American soldiers  look like extras from American  Sniper.And  I do mean that as a compliment. Siddharth Diwan’s cinematography  and  Charu Shree Roy’s editing  dispel  the  mood of claustrophobia  induced by the lack of mobility and the excess  of nobility in the  proceedings.

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