Anurag Kashyap, the enfant-terrible of contemporary Indian cinema, is back with his latest offering ‘Choked- Paisa Bolta Hai’ on Netflix. Set in 2016, it’s based on a bank employee’s discovery of an unlimited source of wealth from her choked drain pipe as the same time, when the entire nation is forced to deal with demonetisation of 500 and 1000 INR currency notes. Frustrated with her frequently jobless and incompetent husband, Sarita, once an aspiring singer but now related to a bank employee, struggles daily to make both ends meet. While looking into a clogged drainage pipe in her kitchen, she stumbles upon bundles of currency notes, wrapped up in plastic. A sudden discovery of wealth makes her happy, but also brings various adversities such as a suspicious husband, a shady criminal and nosy neighbours. It’s an interesting concept, ably supported by a formidable cast.

Anurag Kashyap has always been associated with gritty cinema. It’s a welcome change for him to dabble into a different genre. He chooses a unique subject of a woman, dealing with all the incompetencies of the world around her, making her the centre of the focal point. Her husband who’s frequently out of job and somehow has resigned to his fate, doesn’t make her life easy. Through Sarita’s struggles, he has also highlighted the dilemma and the sufferings of the middle-class families during the demonetisation period. It was an event that had an almost cataclysmic impact on the middle and lower-income families across the country. People ran helter-skelter to deposit their money in older currency notes. Though the use of money via digital mode gain prominence, for older people who were not conversant with technology, a pre-stipulated daily limit of cash withdrawal became a hectic routine. In a rather heartbreaking manner, Kashyap portrays the suffering of an old woman using wry humour, when she requests Sarita to dispense more money than the limit of 4000 INR. Sarita remarks, in almost deadpan expression – You should request those who you voted for, the bank doles only cash, not sympathy! The common junta who were ecstatic about the demonetisation thinking that this would be the end of the black money hoarders were soon feeling the heat, as they had to struggle for their daily households. Kashyap lays out the facts brutally, leaving the audience to decide.

From the actors, Saiyami Kher and Amruta Subhash stand out as the performers to look out for. Saiyami as the hassled aspiring singer turned bank employee does a remarkable job. The term ‘Choked’ also signifies Sarita’s curtailed career as an aspiring singer. In one of the reality shows, she abruptly stops singing due to performance anxiety. Throughout her life, subconsciously she keeps going back to that stage where she had choked up and from time to time, it shows up in her real life as well. We see a woman so neck-deep in her daily struggles that by the time she’s home. she simply does not have the will to fight with her husband. Amruta Subhash is fantastic as the cunning and opportunist neighbour Asha Tai. In fact, her character is so well etched and well enacted that she would definitely remind you of that intrusive annoying neighbour aunty of your childhood. Roshan Mathew as Sarita’s husband Sushant does well as the hopeless husband. Rajshri Deshpande in a cameo of a neighbour also does well. The background score by Karsh Kale takes the film a notch higher. 

‘Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai’ now streaming on Netflix worldwide. 

Runtime: 1 hour 54 minutes

Parental Guidance Rating: U


The Cinemawala Rating: 3/5

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