While it’s perhaps a shade overlong, Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai is nonetheless a compact examination of greed and family in the wake of demonetization.
Anurag Kashyap’s new Netflix film Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai, has a strong what-if scenario at its core and a keenly-observed sociological backdrop behind it. It begins with a suburban bank employee, Sarita (Saiyami Kher), discovering that she has a seemingly unlimited source of plastic-wrapped cash in the pipe below her kitchen sink. But turning a worrying plumbing problem into a source of limitless wealth isn’t the film’s only good idea.
It’s full of them really, mostly in the form of small, unusual details. Sarita is the breadwinner in her family of three; her husband, Sushant (Roshan Mathew), is a wannabe musician with so little drive that he’s mostly content as a stay-at-home dad to their son. Sarita had musical ambitions of her own, but a bad performance tamped them down, and the need to bankroll a middle-class life became more pressing. That’s probably where the lingering tension in their relationship comes from. One gave up a dream to provide a reality, while the other continues to cling to fanciful ideas.
That’s also probably what compels Sarita to the take the money from the sink, moral responsibility be damned, though she doesn’t do so lightly. This is post-demonetization, a story component that apparently came after the thriller setup, though it’s difficult to imagine Choked without it. It’s a pointed and compressed examination – written by Nihit Bhave – of ripples spreading outwards through a densely-packed society of same-boat citizens, though it deliberately doesn’t come down especially hard on either side of the argument.
At almost two hours, Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai is a touch overlong and gets a bit bogged down in Sarita and Sushant’s relationship, which is well-acted on both sides but flatly written. It’s a solid story with the surety of Netflix’s ample budget behind it, though, and it’s also a story that was worth telling and will likely resonate with many.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.