Chintu ka Birthday: A ZEE5 Cinema Experience

What Theatres Reject, OTT Platforms Release

Bollywood industry is quite a big ocean for small scale producers to project their work on the big screen. Well, you have to fulfill several criteria to hit the right producer before you reach the box office. To start with, who are the actors and does it have an exceptional item song?

But what happens to emotions, fine but under appreciated actors and a good story line? Well, Chintu ka Birthday validates how a low budget film with a series of background struggle has made it big through an OTT platform.

Chintu ka Birthday is directed by Devanshu Kumar and Satyanshu. The Jagran Film Festival was thoughtful to give Chintu ka Birthday a shot. The film was screened at the same festival in 2019. It’s screening at MAMI Film Festival, 2018, unfortunately, dropped due to an allegation on one of the producers. AIB (All India Backchod) has produced the film, quite unlikely of their flavour of content. But what is life without a shift in from expectations? The movie is now streaming on ZEE5; it has been re-plugged in as a film.

Covid-19 has brought theatre home and our families closer, possibly the only way the pandemic is showering kindness. Minus the underlying controversy, kyuki business aur films, controversy k bina chalta hai kya? Low budget films are like a middle-class family, no matter how good you are, you have to prove yourself, always. While the high budget films always enjoy their privilege, even though they don’t respect it enough.2020 is a year of revolution as it makes way for low budget films on OTT platforms which otherwise face rejection.

Several movies have scheduled their release on OTT platform. This year, cinema and people have drawn closer through a small screen. Next time you get your house done, make provisions for a home theatre. It would be best if you kept your volume up to feel the essence of every sound effect planned. Gulabo Sitabo, a Bollywood film has finally made its entry on Amazon Prime after much conflict with Inox and PVR. Disney+ Hotstar and Netflix has also bought premier rights to a number of movies.

Similar to Amazon Prime, Netflix has already become a famous and widely acceptable platform. Every streamline has its respective journey, ZEE5 is on its way to reach the top. Choosing to air short and realistic stories like Chintu ka Birthday on ZEE5 premium, it is worth taking their subscription.

Chintu ka birthday is a writer’s film. On its onset- declared winner of Viewer’s Choice Award at Jagran Film Festival,2019. A day in the life of an Indian immigrant family in Baghdad unfolds under the shadow of war.

Chintu ka birthday has been one of the most awaited movies, set in Baghdad of 2004, Chintu’s family aims to celebrate his 6th Birthday. It essentially brings out what releasing a low budget film with good characters and a great story line can do. Despite its release on a not so popular online streaming channel, this film caught our attention and filled our hearts with love.

The story is set within the four walls of Chintu’s house while we are always in touch with the outside world with excellent use of sound effects. The movie is about an immigrant family stuck in Baghdad, which witnessed the downfall of King Saddam Hussein. George Bush’s soldiers sent to Iran in search of an insurgent.

Often, violence is used to curb another violent act, especially in such a scenario. But, the movie shows the peaceful dealing of violent conflicts. The film brings out an honest untold story of soldiers who often are placed on a battlefield as puppets, killing people as a voluntary act. However, amidst the harsh reality of their treatment under the superpower, there lies an underlying dilemma within them. In the film, the soldiers want to get back home just like the Tiwari family. The honest struggle of the breadwinner of the family is presented before us. The battle and responsibility that brought Madan Tiwari to Iraq must be the same reason why soldiers too opted for the job. In most cases, their jobs are manipulative under the name of “Desh bhakti” or the love for your land. But will these soldiers let Chintu celebrate his Birthday?

The film brings out subtly, how the soldiers don’t intend to harm the Tiwari family. They did enter with guns and high pitched voice, taking control of the family members, but the violence fades away. Since their conditioned behaviour could no longer overpower their true, inner human feelings.

There are some very easy stairways to happiness; family values and bond are two of them. We are stuck at home and scrolling through various social media channels with people posting about their family life, here is another family through the lens of cinema we can resonate with.  Both of us have a standard battlefield of war. While Iraq is fighting the US, we are fighting Covid-19. Both, Soldiers and Doctors are war heroes, honoured for their jobs but don’t necessarily want to stay at their current location. Their fight to return “home” continues while they simultaneously serve their nation on the battleground- their new home.

Madan Tiwari is just like any other father who would go to any extent for their children. Parents, in most cases, would choose alternate methods than having a friendly conversation with soldiers.  Madan Tiwari and his family reflect the authenticity of an Indian family from Bihar. It reflects not just in their dialects or local jargons, but also when Madan Tiwari offers a piece of Chintu’s birthday cake to both the soldiers. Madan Tiwari’s reply wins our heart. The film lets us enjoy and reflect on these little moments on a convenient platform, that shape the person we become.

We still manage to celebrate our birthdays as these front liners, continue their battle. Like Chintu, our birthday plans have come to a halt. After all, is a bunch of friends and a birthday cake too much to ask for?

There is a saying- “the farthest you travel with your family, the closer you get to them”. The political scenario in Iraq and the pandemic we are dealing with has brought us closer to our family. It is a privilege for most of us to stay indoor and rebuild our relationship with our family while the doctors fight battles. The situation is drawn parallel with the Tiwari household stuck at home and yet maintaining bonds with each other. It is under this visual process that we learn and unlearn things we didn’t often have the time to pay attention to.

We don’t get a chance to step out of Tiwari household. We acquaint ourselves with the horrid atmosphere with the sound of bombing and gunshot through excellent use of sound effects. We too are stuck at home with gaining knowledge of the world outside through the means of news reports, neighbourhood stories or people sharing the same suffering.

The film reminds us of, JoJo Rabbit, the one yet in World War II. Just like JoJo, Chintu’s innocence, reaction to war outside and humanity within is challenged. What if Chintu didn’t have to witness a conflict? What if Chintu could just go to school like one of us, to celebrate his birthday with his friends? Was it too much for a 6 year old to ask for?

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