Film: ‘Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai’
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Saiyami Kher, Roshan Mathew, Amruta Subhash
Streaming on: Netflix
Stars: 3 out of 5
A movie that examines soulless suburbia and the monotonous marriage of a dissatisfied couple can be stifling, but director Anurag Kashyap’s black dramedy ‘Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai’, out now on Netflix, is entertaining and wicked.
Sarita, played efficiently by Saiyami Kher, is frustrated by her mind-numbing middle class existence. She has been working as a cashier in a government bank, while her musician husband Sushant (Roshan Mathew) is a slacker who hasn’t been able to keep a job for the last five years.
She’s emotionally exhausted by the drudgery called life and being the sole breadwinner, and is jaded about their cash-starved existence. But Sarita’s life gets a jolt when she finds wads of cash in plastic packets emerging from her broken wash basin sewer.
The choked drainage spewing soiled water, which she has been relentlessly telling her husband to fix, becomes her fountain of hope and escape.
SPRING OF HOPE
The premise of this satire is intriguing and bursting with promise and Kashyap doesn’t disappoint.
The film examines greed and class warfare against the backdrop of India’s demonetisation drive, which saw Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi banning cash of certain denominations. Kashyap — who has always been critical of Modi’s governance — uses his film as a tool for his activism and illustrates in great detail how the sudden cash ban drive was a spectacular misfire.
The movie, which was meant to weed out black money among the filthy rich, hurt India’s struggling middle class the most and the movie seems to underline this.
But whatever your political affiliation or take on demonetisation, there’s a lot of pleasure to be found in this engaging film about lousy lives bolstered by illegal money.
Kher and Mathew are perfectly cast as this once loved-up couple who now share a mutual disdain for each other. The scene in which they loudly argue about their clogged kitchen drain and wake up their sleeping young son to provide his testimony on who is right is a mirror to their decaying relationship.
The Pillai clan aren’t particularly likeable, but you just can’t take your eyes off them.
Even when Sarita reveals her greed and waits every night for her clogged sewer to cough up cash, you empathise with her desperate need for money. The actors also exercise a lot of economy in their emotions. This film is powered by subtle, nuanced performances.
Mathew as an emasculated husband who is ribbed for making his wife a cash cow among his neighbours is bang on target. His helplessness and toothless fury is palpable.
Sarita’s ordinary neighbours are a hoot as well and there’s lots of fun to be had in their nosy and self-centred attitudes.
Be warned — the climax feels rushed and the twists towards the end seem contrived. The political undertones may seem heavy-handed, but assured acting and an interesting premise are currencies that will never go out of style.
Put your money on this one.