Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap released his latest creation, Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai, as a Netflix original film. It is a story that delivers a painfully slow take on the 2016 demonetisation drive in India. Saiyami Kher, who made her debut with Mirzya in 2016, plays the central character in the film. She is supported by Roshan Mathew and Amruta Subhash. After struggling to watch the movie with dedicated interest, this is my review of Choked.
Pati, Patni, Aur Paisa (or the lack of it)
The plot of the film revolves around the life of a hapless bank teller, Sarita Pillai (Kher), and her hopeless, struggling musician husband Sushant Pillai (Mathew). The film starts with their life as a married couple where the family is dependent on the wife’s income. Sarita and Sushant also have a son, Sameer, played by Parthveer Shukla, who finds himself as a referee between his parents’ who-said-what fights. They have a neighbour, Sharvari Tai (Subhash), who is preparing for her daughter’s wedding and often complains to Sarita about a plumbing issue in the latter’s house.
After a seemingly never-ending background on the family, the story then moves forward to the main point. One night, a disturbing sound from their kitchen drainage leads to Sarita taking matters into her own hands. When she investigates further, the clogged drain pipe reveals a lot more than the garbage that was blocking it – rolls of cash wrapped in plastic pouches. This sudden ‘inflow’ of cash then becomes a daily affair when Sarita finds similar rolls every day in the dead of the night. Her happiness is then shattered when Sharvari Tai comes in hysterically to inform them of the demonetisation news. What follows next is a series of events depicting the impact of the sudden notebandi.
Kashyap’s special dedication to Modi ji
Director Anurag Kashyap has been vocal about his opinion of the current ruling party and their policies. His film too doesn’t fail to make sly comments through an interaction. Sushant, visibly proud of his Pradhan Mantri, asks Sarita, “Did you know how many years Modiji lived like a hermit in the Himalayas?” to which she responds with, “Yes. He made and sold tea, and swept his floors too. If you did just that, I would be content”. And then, of course, comes the dialogue on the wife, where Sushant tells Sarita that the Pradhan Mantri also “left his wife for the sake of the nation.”
Choked review: Final thoughts
The film definitely has an interesting concept and some brilliant acting by Saiyami Kher. The thing that takes it down is the pace. It is painfully slow and unnecessarily dragged. Showing the couple’s failed ambitions through a hazy background on a reality show is also smart but dragged. In my opinion, this film is a cinematic version of that meeting which could’ve been an email. It would’ve probably been more enjoyable as a 40-minute piece, but 1 hour and 54 minutes for this is just too long.