Amidst this chaotic time in the world which is flooded by negativity, a global pandemic, and many natural disasters, the release of Chintu ka Birthday is a sight for sore eyes. The movie displays unabashed levels of positivity in a war-torn land. Madan Tiwari- played by the extremely talented Vinay Pathak, is a simple middle class Indian man who is stuck in Iraq with his family. The movie follows a special day in the life of this family- their youngest child, Chintu’s birthday.
As the movie progresses, we see the different levels of trouble that the family is put through and how at every level they try their best to maintain a positive outlook. We at Muskurahat, believe that upbringing plays an extremely crucial part in a child’s life and this movie proves exactly why. We see a structural change in the hierarchy of the family where the children are on the top, followed by the parents. Their input is as valuable, if not more, as the parents and their needs are put before anyone else’s. The parents in the family, lead by example and show the children the extreme necessity of kindness even in the darkest of times.
This movie also breaks the stereotypes of masculinity by showing Madan Tiwari as a soft spoken, kind man, who values the opinions of his wife and children, shows no dominant or aggressive behaviour as the patriarch of the family and is constantly forgiving and resilient. There were multiple instances in the movie which showed that even though he was the earning member of his family, power was equally distributed between him and his wife. No where in the movie does he try to mansplain his wife or daughter or try to establish himself or his thoughts as superior. With every difficulty that hits him, he becomes more and more forgiving, setting an example for his children at every level. Even after the american soldiers are extremely rude to him and almost tear down his whole house, when his son expresses sorrow by telling him that, “we will not give the soldiers any cake”, but Madan very patiently explains to Chintu that they are only doing what is asked of them and nothing more, so even they deserve to eat cake. This becomes a learning moment for the child because even in the most difficult of times, in a place like Iraq, his father chooses to be kind to the perpetrators, which is what will reflect in the child during times when he faces hardships.
We often tend to scrutinize children with a more ideal lens than required so as to make them perfect members of the society but we often forget that they are as human as we are and they must be allowed to make mistakes. This movie, so beautifully, depicts this nature of children by showing how notorious Chintu’s friend Waheed is, and how his mistakes almost cost Madan his life. Even when put under extreme pressure, Madan does not give away the fact that the CDs belonged to Waheed as he was just a little child trying to make the most out of a war he did not understand. This becomes a learning moment for Waheed where he apologises voluntarily after the soldiers leave and even then Madan does not raise his voice or scold him. He kindly caresses his face and forgives him, making the child understand the depth of his mistake and an assurance that he would not do it again because he saw the repercussions of his actions live.
Forgiveness is an extremely important part of a child’s upbringing. We know, as humans, we have the tendency to make mistakes and learn from them. That is how we achieve growth. No man has ever done everything right in his life and that is a fact known to all of us because right and wrong are very subjective ideas. This is what Madan teaches his children. Instead of defining situations and things as set-in-stone, he shows his children that it is moldable like clay. He shows how he forgives his landlord and friend Mahdi, as he must have acted so because of fear. He shows how he forgives the soldiers because they too, like him, are stuck away from home in a foreign land and will not be able to go back anytime soon. Ultimately, by showing his forgiveness, he displays to his children that everyone who makes mistakes is only human and we must forgive them for it because they make those mistakes due to the different obligations they have. This allows room for the children to not only make mistakes of their own, but also to be a little kinder to themselves when they realise that they have made those mistakes. This enables the children to achieve growth and resilience even in the toughest of times like war.
War is the worst thing that could happen to humankind and there are millions around the world suffering because of no fault of their own, because big superpowers are fighting for an imaginary throne which stands tall over the dead bodies of uncountable innocent people. In a situation like this, it is very easy to traumatise children and leave a permanent mental scar on their lives. Chintu ka Birthday is a movie that sets an example of how much a parent’s outlook can positively impact a child’s life and save them from years of trauma and mental health problems. A parent’s role in the life of their child is to act as an invisible protective shield, which saves them from the dustiest of deserts and rainiest of lands but only as an enabler to help them move forward in life and never as an obstacle that they can’t get over. Madan Tiwari does just that for his children and his kindness is rewarded in the end, as the American soldiers decide to not hold him captive, spare his life and let him be with his family.
A parent is a figure that acts as a catalyst in a child’s life. They make the process of life easier and better for their children. The emotional, social and physical development of young children has a direct effect on their overall development and on the adult they will become. That is why understanding the need to invest time and patience in very young children is so important- in order to maximize their future well-being. In the life of children who live in orphanages and shelter homes, this very catalyst is missing. This not only slows down their growth but also inhibits them from achieving their true potential. That is why we rely on the youth of this country to fill this visible gap in the life of at-risk children. Because time is the biggest and most important investment and as the youth, we have the time and strength to shape young minds and make a better and more equal world for everyone.
We urge everyone reading this, to make a conscious effort to donate their time to those who need it the most. Volunteer today.