Starring Vinay Pathak, Seema Pahwa and Tillotama Shome in significant roles, Chintu Ka Birthday had a digital release on ZEE5. Written and directed by Satyanshu Singh and Devanshu Kumar, Chintu Ka Birthday is the story of an Indian family living in Iraq during the war in the early 2000s. Amid the chaos, this middle-class family has only one aim – to celebrate Chintu’s birthday.
In an exclusive conversation with indianexpress.com, the directors talked about setting the film in Iraq and working with child actors.
The perennial positivity of the film led us to ask the makers about their thoughts while writing the film. They shared with us how the exaggerated goodness in the lead character (Vinay Pathak) doesn’t come across as fake but highlights that one has to stay positive, no matter what. “Is there any other way to live? We have to accept that problems in our lives are never going to end. And these problems are usually beyond our control. I believe it’s a very practical way of looking at life, not idealistic. But to tell a story, you need to exaggerate your character so that they force you to think who you are,” Satyanshu Singh said.
The film is set in Baghdad, while George W Bush was still the President of the United States. Satyanshu shared with us that he started writing this story back in 2007, and the news stories of Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were everywhere. The international politics of the time dictated this to be just the right setting for this hopeful story. He shared that at the time they pondered, “Can we make a nice endearing film in a warzone outside of India?”
“We were young, so we believed we could achieve anything, but then it took us five years to get the script right. An idea will only take you somewhere but then you need to work hard for several years to get the story right,” the director said.
Even though the film’s cast boasts of experienced actors, it was very important that the makers cast just the right boy for Chintu’s role. Devanshu Kumar shared, “We had this idea that we should cast a boy whom you will feel bad for if his birthday gets ruined.” The team looked for kids in Delhi, Bihar and Jharkhand and ultimately found Vedant Chibber (who plays Chintu) in Delhi. The makers were very clear that they wanted kids who were non-actors, who could just be natural in front of the camera.
In fact, the makers even organised counseling sessions with a medical professional for the child actors before they went on set. “While casting, we were clear that we cannot give any child a bad experience or environment because this was a very demanding film,” he added.
Child actors aside, the team felt really lucky to have some senior actors on board. “It’s our good fortune that we had actors like Vinay Pathak, Tillotama Shome and Seema Pahwa in the film,” Devanshu Kumar concluded.
Chintu Ka Birthday, also starring Khalid Massou, Nate Scholz and Reginald L Barnes, is streaming on ZEE5.
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