CP in CP (Child participation in Chillar Party)

Chillar Party is a delightful watch. A low budget, child focused movie was an absolutely pleasure to watch.
Press release and review of Chillar Party has stated film to be of a ‘gang of innocent but feisty baccha log’, ‘a low budget hit’ and a ‘must watch for children as well as adults’.

But there is certainly a lot more to this movie. One has to see it to believe it how child participation and aspects of violation of child participation are beautifully displayed in this movie.

Movie starts with taking viewers to a middle class housing colony in Mumbai – Chandannagar society and introducing each of these children (child artist) who are fondly known with their peer names like ‘Jangiya’, ‘Encyclopedia’, ‘Panauti’, ‘Akram’, ‘second-hand’ etc. Each of these children display varied characteristic and it is fun to watch their work.

The ‘chillar’ gang is an all boy gang. One girl enters after the second half. The aspect of inclusion of a single girl in the group is shown in a very good spirit. The girl quickly becomes an integral part of the gang and shares an equal say in their decision making.

This group of children usually meets at a common meeting place in the building where they crack jokes, play, plan, scheme, express their thoughts and ideas. The space is essentially ‘child space’ which is seldom intruded by adult.

The entry of destitute child ‘Fatka’ and his dog ‘Biddu’ changes the course of the movie. ‘Fatka’ is a child labor in the colony whose home is an old discarded car. He earns his living by cleaning colony cars. After initial ragging by the gang, Fatka gradually becomes a very important member of the group. The whole collectivization process in this children’s group started with group’s decision in supporting Fatka and his dog ‘Biddu’. The collectivization process in the movie is shown with children group carrying out signature campaign, supporting each other for the commonly agreed cause, the group waking up early and carrying out fatka’s job of cleaning when he was sick, trying out options like calling a journalist and making breaking news, formal meeting with the ‘powerful’ politician and also carrying out a Rally.

Children innocence is romantically shown throughout the movie. These small emotions are shown through display of their innocent behavior, them asking questions and repeated questions, mistakes which they do, their stubborn behavior, games and pranks they played and many more.

The adult behavior in the movie has two shades. Through out the movie there is ‘superior adult’ which overarches all the time. There is an instance where children are undermined and thought that they could never win a match against the next society children. There are numerous shots where adult thought it wasn’t good for children to play with ‘Fatka’ as they are picking up bad language. Aspect of class and religious bias which is often seated more with adults has also been shown in the movie. In a very crude way, a politician character intimidates these children and challenges their sheer existence and stance on a minor issue of a dog. On the other side there is this side of a supportive adult in the character of ‘Googly’. There is also this concerned and encouraging adult who decides to stand by their children’s decision despite of the fact that general adult feeling the issue to be frivolous. There is also showcase of adult behavior who believed in their children and encouraged them to decide on their own.

A generally fast pace of the movie slackens a little towards the end. The aspect of child labor though explicitly not shown as a major child rights issue, the movie magnificently shows the plight of the child and his childhood.

Spiced by humor, excellent script writing and marvelous acting by children, ‘Chillar Party’ is an excellent watch where violations and barriers to child participation are showcased very well. Along with being child focused movie for children, it is also a brilliant movie for parents, adults, development professionals,thinkers and policy makers.

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