Genre: Suspense & Mystery
Late in the evening of November 8, 2016, I was at a relative’s place, handing out the wedding card of my younger sister’s impending marriage, when PM Modi announced from the TV screen that the currency notes of 1000 and 500 will no longer be legal tender. There are millions across the country, who wouldn’t, for the rest of their lives, forget their whereabouts on this exact date each year, when cash in circulation was rendered worthless in a matter of minutes! Demonetization sets the stage for Netflix’s original thriller drama ‘Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai’, which is a slick-but-sometimes-sloppy attempt at making a film on the very issue that incited divided opinions from the entire country.
It narrates the story of a hardworking bank teller Sarita Sahastrabuddhe-Pillai, the sole breadwinner of a family of three, who leads a monotonous life, hoping to get out of the rut some day. To add to her woes is her good-for-nothing but talented musician husband, Sushant, who either sits at home all day or whiles away his time at the neighbours’. Her nosey neighbours do not let her breathe easy after work either. A little back story also tells us how Sarita, a vocally-gifted girl wanted to strike gold with her voice on a reality show, but developed cold feet at the last moment, thus making it back to the life she is now stuck in.
Life in Mumbai is another issue, for travelling to work takes up half of her time and once she is back, her household chores take away the other half of it. Either her kitchen sink is gurgling water outside the drain, flooding her entire kitchen, or her neighbours are in her drawing room, waiting to catch up on her day’s work. Life, for Sarita, in general, is not such a happening one after all. Once when the drainpipe of her kitchen sink, throws up wads of cash in the middle of the night, Sarita takes it as a blessing in disguise, thinking lady luck has finally smiled upon her. Little does she realize that this is not what one would want to get into.
Every night, after the family sleeps; Sarita locks herself in the kitchen, hoping for her drain to throw up money, along with all the filth from the sewer, so that she can deposit it in her account without anyone else getting wind of it. This goes on for a while, until Sarita’s neighbour Sharvari Tai sends over her own relatives, who have come to attend her daughter’s wedding, to make camp at Sarita’s place for the night. What happens next is a web of tangled cords, laced with lies, secrets, greed, bad luck and a lot of drama and a surprise end.
‘Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai’ is Anurag Kashyap’s honest take on a young, Mumbai-based, middle class working wife, who, for once, wants to get out of her groove. It sheds light on how residents of the society become part of the closely-knit neighbourhood and the role they play in your daily life. Kashyap also focuses on the fact that where money matters, relationships go for a toss. As a director, he has tapped all the aspects of life in Mumbai’s middle class very rightly. Screenplay by Nihit Bhave captures the essence of the story perfectly and Sylvester Fonseca’s cinematography enhances (pun intended) the nooks and crannies of the protagonist’s home, including the drain, to a T! With a few threads hanging loose, Kashyap manages to combine a straight story with a clever narrative, adding a clogged drainpipe that becomes the heroine’s prophetic oil well.
Saiyami Kher as Sarita is a revelation. The young actress fits the bill flawlessly and gets into the skin of her character, which has a lot of meat. Debut actor Roshan Matthew as her struggling musician husband is fittingly cast in the role, who adds his own charm to the spendthrift character. Amruta Subhash is sizzling as the inquisitive neighbour, providing a spark to the story. While Upendra Limaye as the villain could have been played by anyone else, Parthveer Shukla, who plays the lead couple’s 8-year-old son, is refreshing.
Put together, ‘Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai’ is a taut thriller, with a twist climax, which can be enjoyed during this quarantine.
Eventznu Rates ‘Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai’: * * *