Four years after PM Modi made most of the country’s currency notes worthless, here is a Hindi film based on a similar theme where money turns into mere papers.
Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai, a Netflix original directed by Anurag Kashyap, dwells deep into the personal lives of a group of troubled characters even as attempting to make a bold political statement in the backdrop of the 'note ban' phase of contemporary India.
Written by Nihit Bhave, the plot begins in October 2016. Saiyami plays Sarita who is married to Sushant Pillai, played by Roshan Mathew, and they have a son. While Sarita is a bank employee and is the breadwinner of the family, Sushant is jobless. Both Sarita and Sushant share a choked relationship. And one night, Sarita finds wrapped rolls of cash from the kitchen drainage. It keeps on coming in and she keeps the secret with herself.
Choked then alters the pace. On November 8, 2016, the plot takes a big turn with the PM’s speech. Sushant is convinced here that Acche Din has finally come. But Sarita, with all the found money, is left in disbelief.
The movie then suddenly shifts to the post-demonitisation phase and from there it takes a bumpy ride.
But having said that, Choked, structured as a thriller, is compelling, right from the beginning. The actors are good fit. Saiyami Kher commands the lead here. Being the strong woman to playing the anxious scenes, Saiyami pulls it off easily. Roshan Mathew is impressive as an insecure husband. If gone wrong, the character would have looked a caricature but Roshan deals it with enough maturity and sincerity. Their relationship is realistic. The scene when they bicker on the bed for calling a plumber and then ask their sleeping kid to tell who was lying was spot on. Amruta Shubhash and Rajshree Deshpande as neighbours too liven up many of the scenes.
The problem here is that the film asks us to keep guessing and concludes with a clumsy ending. Choked struggles to maintain that initial tempo and slows down after a point.
But it’s indeed a brave movie by Anurag Kahyap who is known for his bold statements and solid contents. But his heavy style doesn’t overshadow the main story.
The background score by Karsh Kale and sound design by Gautam are perfectly in sync with the mood. It is interesting to see how the songs are placed.
In a scene, when an elderly woman begs to withdraw more money, Saritha says, “Bank mein paisa milta hain, sympathy nahi. Unke haath jodiye jinko vote diya tha”. (Beg to the people whom you voted).
And by that Anurag Kashyap makes the political statement he wants to make further clear. The film encapsulates a troubled marriage, a bad drainage, the inability to win and be successful in life, and the corrupt society as a whole. Yes, money really speaks in this movie like a character itself establishing emotional connect.
With a thought provoking theme, Choked is definitely worth a watch.