CHOKED: PAISA BOLTA HAI REVIEW: Looks real, feels unreal...

Choked is an Indian Netflix Original film, directed by Anurag Kashyap, starring Saiyami Kher, Roshan Mathew in lead roles. It was released on OTT platform Netflix on 05-06-2020. Here is a detailed review for Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai.

I am very happy with the fact that Indian filmmakers are making it a point to make movies exclusively for OTT platforms and foregoing theatrical releases. The issue with OTT movies is that the viewer has the fast forward option at his disposal, and can easily skip the portions that appear to be boring. And do you think that there is a necessity for three songs in a movie with a runtime of 134 min, that too an OTT exclusive release? I shall leave that to your opinion.

Coming to the plot, set around October 2016(NOTE THE MONTH AND YEAR!), Sushanth and Sarita Pillai (Roshan and Saiyami Kher), live in a gloomy matchbox apartment, a typical Mumbai middle class family setup. Their relationship was previously fuelled by their love for music and they dream of becoming a singer and guitarist duo. It all breaks down when Sarita chokes in middle of her performance in a reality show, when the lights come on in the middle of her performance and the sight of hundred odd audience staring at the stage intimidates her. This not only breaks their dream, but also distances them emotionally. Coming to the present, Sushanth is not the typical husband who has a 9 to 5 job and takes care of the family financially and emotionally, but it is the other way round. He keeps shifting jobs and finally joins the club of eligible unemployed youth (with debts piling on his head), while his wife works as a cashier in the government bank and struggles to tie the loose ends daily. This already strangled relation is further complicated by their only son, in innumerable ways.

In middle of all this typical middle-class chaos, one fine night, Sarita finds bundles of currency neatly stuffed in plastic covers, coming out of their choked kitchen sink pipe. For a middle class working mother in Mumbai, this incident means that the door to the holy heavens are open. What did Sarita do with this money? Did Sushanth find out about the this? What happens during the heist in the bank (It was already suggested in the trailer… so it ain’t a spoiler folks!) and who is the person living above the Pillai’s apartment? And the most important question…. What has this got to do Demonetization? Watch the movie if you are interested in knowing the answers… and don’t blame me if you are not satisfied with them.

As of performances, not often you find an actress sinking her teeth into the role of a middle class working women. Saiyami Kher nails her performance with aplomb and makes you root for her. The way she clutches her handbag with cash close to her during travel, and the ease with which she handles the clichéd family and neighbors, do feel very real. Sushanth also plays his character with ease. You can see recklessness written all over his face… Other characters do just fine, and do look out for Sarvari Thaayi when she comes and breaks the news of demonetization to the Pillai’s. The kid who played the next-gen Pillai does it with ease and grace.

Coming to technical departments, the cinematography and BGM are of top-notch and do stand out in this regular pot-boiler film. The setting appears to be so real, hats off to the art direction team for that. I personally didn’t like the concept of having songs in a OTT feature film like this, but the tunes do sound nice… kudos to Karsh Kale for that.

Coming to the crux, story and screenplay… though the film does appear real, some concepts seem to be really far-fetched. Storing illegal money in pipes, while there are suitcases of currency piled in the same house? Didin’t convince me. The place where the owner hides the key to this precious apartment throws a challenge to our rational minds. However, am happy that for once, freedom that the OTT platforms give to the makers was utilised in a right way. The language used was very pretty decent, no cuss words… And the name of the 56-inch bust sized man, the supreme leader (if you get it, get it!), was invoked multiple times. The writers did well in portraying the situation of banks and middle-class families during the DeMo period.

Wrapping it up, Choked succeeds in showcasing the reality of the past, with few far-fetched concepts. Do watch it for the fine performances of the lead pair, and to get a glimpse of what DeMo did to the country!

P.S: We @CelluloidTales are affiliated only to our honest opinions and love for cinema, not any other organisations!

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