The writer-director duo of Devanshu Kumar and Satyanshu Singh are garnering audience praise and critical acclaim for their debut digital film “Chintu Ka Birthday”. They say zeroing in on the right actor for the titular role of Chintu was quite a daunting task, and they must have rejected at least 1,800 kids before finalising Vedant Chibber for the role.
“I could write a book on it, someday I will! After writing the script, the casting of actors was one of the sacred processes for both of us. Of course, finding Chintu was a task and we had to get it right. We were clear that we must look for a Chintu who does not act. We believe in performance and not acting. Since the story revolves around a six-year-old boy and his birthday, we wanted the boy to live in the moment,” Devanshu told IANS.
“But kids don’t get it. We must have rejected around 1,800 kids before we found Chintu in Vedant. As the film was difficult to shoot, we wanted an intelligent and well-behaved child with a certain innocence and adorable quality. Vedant had it all,” said Satyanshu.
Vedant’s grandfather and great grandfather used to do street theatres back in the day. His father is a theatre actor in Delhi. According to the makers: “Being a boy who was the fourth generation of an actors’ family, there were certain natural elements in him.”
Set in Baghdad of 2004 when the Iraqi President Saddam Hussain has been deposed, the film narrates the story of a single day in the lives of an expatriate Indian family that plans to celebrate little Chintu’s birthday, when things go haywire owing to the tension outside.
The film features Vinay Pathak, Tillotama Shome, Seema Pahwa, Bisha Chaturvedi, Khalid Massou, Reginald L Barnes, and Nathan Scholz along with child actor Vedant.
How was it working with the youngster? “I have to say that on set he was super competitive. He loves mathematics and he had that tendency of doing everything to his best. He learnt all the dialogues, including the Arabic lines, to perfection. Vinay Pathak played his father, and we told Vedant, ‘today Vinay sir will do better than you’, he would outperform Vinay!” said Devanshu.
Since the film is set against the backdrop of war, casting the characters of the US soldiers, the Iraqi characters as well as the Indian characters, was a lengthy process. In fact, the casting of US soldiers took place six years before the shooting started.
“Although it was quite an elaborate process for us to find every actor for each character, we had hours of the reading sessions and video calls with all of them to create every character. At the end, when we see the result, it’s all worth it,” Devanshu signed off.
–IANS, Arundhuti Banerjee