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“Chippa” is a chip off the ‘new’ block for Indian Cinema

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Streaming giant Netflix released a new Hindi language film called “Chippa” directed by Safdar Rahman and starring Sunny Pawar in the titular role; on the 1st of June, 2020 and in about 5 days time, it started crawling its way up the top-10 films list issued by Netflix themselves!

Very soon, they made it to the top position of the aforementioned list and quite deservedly so!

“Chippa” is a whiff of fresh air when it comes to content on these streaming platforms, it does not boast of any star from the “parallel films” leave alone the stars from the Indian “mainstream films”; but what it does boast of is a script done right.

The film can easily be an Ode to the City of Joy! It presents a very different side of the city of Kolkata – the side which is heavily inclusive of all the faiths and characters who inhabit the city but more importantly it speaks of these characters that have, over the years been inhabited by the city itself.

Sunny Pawar, the child actor who stars in the titular role as “Chippa” shows glimpses of sheer brilliance but more importantly manages to capture a lucid and vulnerable undertone to his portrayal. Mind you, the vulnerability is not to be confused with ‘weakness’ in any way for “Chippa” is truly courageous, outward and a positive glimmer in this rather gloomy world.

The film is by no means a tool of communicating any communal tone but rather speaks of the unique amalgamation of the same in the city of Kolkata. The story starts off one evening and covers the journey of the protagonist through the city on the eve of his 10th birthday in an attempt to find his calling, and more literally find someone who can read ‘Urdu’ so that he can be helped to fathom the letter left by his father.

Sure there is a strong undercurrent of characters being Muslim and Hindu but to give the director his due, along with many other sequences, in one sequence a character asks “Chippa” if he’s Muslim and in reply, the 10 year old just chooses to get down from the car instead of answering it. It is a blunt statement from most Kolkatans who’d rather pride themselves of being a Kolkatan first; instead of being identified by religion, caste, gender or creed.

The film interestingly weaves in the imagination of a 10 year old with the realities of those much older around him. The screenplay does yearn for more tightness but what works out is the wonderful camera work, perfect sound design and an even paced editing for the film. Honestly, Ramanuj Dutta (DOP), Sukanta Majumdar (Sound Designer) and Manas Mittal (Editor) are the true heroes of the film.

Chandan Roy Sanyal does a good job in a cameo, as does Gautam Sarkar and Masood Akhtar but over and above even Sunny Pawar, the true hero of the film emerges to be the city of Kolkata; who seems to have a profound impression upon the Director.

For anyone who hasn’t walked the bylanes of Kolkata in the middle of the night, perhaps in search of a cigarette or just a cup of tea; these night-time sequences may not speak as vividly as for someone who’s literally been there and done that!

From street football at night to sweetshops, Biryani, Yellow Taxis, chai-wallahs and even newspaper vendors of the wee hours of a morning – the sequences are seeped in the nostalgia that is Kolkata, minus the Howrah Bridge, the Rabindra Sangeet, the Satyajit Ray, the litterateurs, or the cricket fans! Oh what a statement to make!!

The music of the film by Cyrille De Haes is very poignant and in tune with the essence of the story. The innocence of the child, the dreamer inside the child, the daring outlook of the child all seem to be echoing a larger sentiment: “zindagi abhi shuru hua hai” (Life’s just begun now).\

Overall, it’s one of the not lowly lit but still gritty films that needs to be watched and re-watched to encourage this new brand of filmmaking in India.


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