Chippa: Streaming on Netflix
I end up watching Safdar Rahman’s 2018 ‘Chippa’ on Netflix last night, and I find the story incredibly heart-warming.
The movie starts with a beautiful showcasing of the city of Kolkata, which is my hometown. That’s also partially a reason why I took an interest in watching the film. I was very much keen to know about what’s the story of Chippa or who is Chippa.
Chippa a ten-year-old -boy living in the streets of Kolkata outside a Park Circus hospital. Sunny Pawar played the titular character ‘Chaippa’ (young Saroo in Lion and young Gaitonde in Sacred Games).
Chippa is given a letter by an older man sitting with his old pals by the street. He says the letter is written in Urdu, and it is from Chippa’s father as a gift on his 10th birthday.
Chippa is an orphan. His father had left his mother and him when he was just a baby and ran away to marry a Bengali girl. Well, that doesn’t impact Chippa. All he wants now is to read the letter on his birthday. But he can’t read Urdu.
Chippa is being taken care of by a lady (grand aunt) who runs a roadside food eatery, and both don’t bond well with each other. On his birthday night, young Chippa runs away from his home, carrying a bag on his soldier.
The story explores a ten-year-old boy’s adventurous night of his birthday when he is roaming free on the empty roads of Kolkata.
His first encounter is with a taxi driver (Sumeet Thakur), where he is seen enjoying the cold breeze sitting over the roof of the taxi. He enjoys spectating a local football match with the driver and engages in a jovial conversation. He tells him how one should always feel happy in what’s he/she is doing.
On his nocturnal adventure, he continues meeting other strangers too like a group of band players, a wealthy alcoholic, a policeman, and a puppy, which became his friend ‘Pippa.’
Throughout the movie, Pippa is the only character who hasn’t left his side. We see the cute little puppy with him all the time.
To all the strangers that Chippa met on his adventurous night, he is a ray of hope to them. He makes them smile, makes them feel good, and unknowingly gives them a life lesson.
Like, when he met the rich young guy who was drunk, Chippa told him while lying on his car’s bonnet looking at the sky that if you stare at the sky every night for 20 minutes, it will ease your life.
Not surprisingly, he kept his adventure continue until he met someone who can read to him his father’s Urdu letter. It felt as if it was the only thing in his life right now that is important.
He wants to know about his father, whom he never met but more than that Chippa loves living in the present and dream.
To all the strangers that he met, he tells them what his dream is. Sometimes he says he dreams of becoming a footballer, a musician, a taxi driver, etc. This portrays the sheer innocence Chippa has, his dreams, and his vivid imagination that frames his childhood.
Despite being an orphan, on the run, searching for someone who can read his letter, this kid is happy in his imaginative world. We see Chippa sit across the post office and draws the building of an Eiffel tower at the top and a puppy that he imagines.
The movie uses animation beautifully to capture Chippa’s vivid imagination and dream space.
The movie has also captured the beauty of Kolkata, as no other film has. It’s not the Victoria Memorial or the Howrah bridge that made the city looked beautiful in the film.
It is the narrow lanes of the North Kolkata, the uncountable small shops located in linear across the lanes; it’s the high lights that make the city look beautiful at night and the silence of the night.
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The director let us fall in love with the city through Chippa. The boy cherishes his birthday night by asking the policeman to have a sonpapdi with him, and the treat is on him.
He offered tea to the newspaperman (Chandan Roy Sanyal), who is the last person Chippa has met because he found his purpose.
Chandan Roy Sanyal makes a late entry in the film and has a small onscreen space. He is the only person that Chippa found who can read Urdu, but he didn’t read it to him. Instead, he offered Chippa to work for him in helping to distribute newspapers and a place to stay.
The young boy forgets about his letter and started enjoying his short work.
The ending, however, isn’t what I expected of the story. We see Chippa ran away from the house of the character that Chandan played because his onscreen wife didn’t want to welcome him to stay.
It’s already morning, and the city is back on its foot, welcoming the crowd. While roaming in the street with Pippa, a shopkeeper mistook him as a thief. He got rescued by the same policeman with whom he shared sonpapdi the last night.
When the cop asked him where he wants to go, unlike last night this time, he said, ‘I want to go home.’
Beaten by the people even when he was just an innocent boy, it broke him to pieces.
‘Chippa’ is an unconventional movie of an independent filmmaker who tried to show a child’s vision, mind, and world. I find this film a beautiful coming-of-age Indian cinema.