Film Review Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai (Money Talks)

Film Review  Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai (Money Talks)

Actors: Saiyamyi Kher, Roshan Mathew and Amruta Subhash

Director: Anurag Kashyap

After the immense success of 'Sacred Games' and 'Lust Stories' it was only a matter of time before Netflix handed over another pot of money for Anurag Kashyap to create new content.

As one of India's reputed filmmakers, his dark crime dramas have gripped the country's youth and global diaspora. At a time when the world's population slowly eases out of lockdown with employment and income issues on their mind, what better than money as the subject matter of his latest release.

'Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai' veers away from Kashyap's usual underworld settings and sinister characters to focus on Sushant and Sarita, a working class Maharashtrian couple currently down on their luck. After failed attempts at becoming a professional musician Sushant (Mathew) lazes around at home jobless, while Sarita (Kher) works all hours as a bank cashier. With her dreams of being a famous singer dashed, her life is filled with drudgery as she struggles to keep her household afloat.

Things take an unexpected turn when Sarita discovers a secret stash of cash mysteriously appear from the blocked drain beneath her kitchen sink. As if by some divine intervention, night after night neatly rolled packets of rupees spew forth, leaving Sarita with the dilemma; does she report or keep her newfound wealth? With her husband's debts piling up and a young son's future to worry about, Sarita is left with little choice.

Having squirreled away her loot and splashed out on home improvements, Sarita's luck doesn't last long. In a twist of fate, Prime Minister Modi's startling announcement of demonetisation sends her world into a spin. How Sarita handles this unpredictable scenario forms the crux of this drama, deftly handled by Kashyap.

In a departure from the gritty and ultra-violent style of direction for which is he famed, Kashyap lends a more sensitive touch to 'Choked'. His casting of newcomers Kher and Mathew is a gamble that pays off, both actors totally immersed in their characters and the community they inhabit. Special mention for scene stealing Amruta Subhash as the couple's melodramatic neighbour, whose conversation style swings from sweet whispers to howling hysteria. She's an absolute delight.

Credit also to writer Nihit Bhave for the basic premise of the movie, one of the first Indian features to throw a satirical light on the topic of demonetisation and the profound effect it had on Indian society. An easy and engaging watch, 'Choked' will leave you feeling surprisingly upbeat, probably a first for a Kashyap production.
by Jaspreet P. Bajaj
Jaspreet is the London-based Founder of Bombay Funkadelic events and an Entertainment writer.
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