Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai, or simply Choked, is a thriller directed and co-produced by Anurag Kashyap, who never disappoints. The film stars Saiyami Kher and Roshan Mathew in the lead roles, with Amruta Subhash and Rajshri Deshpande in supporting roles.
The movie takes place in the backdrop of the 2016 demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 bank notes.
A simple employee
Choked follows Sarita Pillai, who is the sole earning member of her family. Her husband Sushant hasn’t been able to keep up a steady job. They also have a son. Sushant’s inability to keep a job has pushed Sarita to her edge. She works throughout the day and comes home to clean up around the house since her husband refuses to help her. Their marriage, which started out great, has faced the brunt of their money troubles, and their son has to face some of it as well.
Trouble starts when Sarita finds money in her kitchen, coming from the drain, along with some nasty-looking sludge. She’s confused at first and then she realises the doors this opportunity has opened up.
Rags to riches
Sarita’s desperation is probably every person who has to struggle day-in and day-out to find a means to an end. However, the closer they get to that goal, the farther it seems to go away. There’s water leakage in their house, her husband has a lot of debt and taking care of all those responsibilities alone has made her bitter. And within all this mess, there’s the demonetisation which changed people’s lives forever.
Kashyap is a smart director. And Choked is no different. The way the demonetisation is portrayed is brilliant. You can see the desperation of the people who are standing in long queues throughout the day without respite. However, the director never lets the topic take over the story. The focus is always Sarita and her family, with the demonetisation just in the background. You can’t see it, but its presence is felt in every breath.
There are also the nosy neighbours. They will not think twice before throwing you under the bus, but will not shy away from asking for help at the drop of a hat. We also get a glimpse of how fast fake news can spread, and the impact it can have on people’s lives. Sarita’s neighbours, or even Sushant, for that matter, don’t think twice about believing ridiculous WhatsApp forwards. But I guess that’s our reality now.
If eyes could talk
What makes Choked a worthy watch is probably not its story or camera angles, or anything else. It’s its brilliant performances. Saiyami Kher as Sarita is ofcourse the strongest link of the movie. Her role required her to act, and she did it with finesse. Where she didn’t have anything to say, her eyes did the talking. Her acting brought forward the desperation of a person who is trying everything to make ends meet. And that desperation turns to determination. At no point during these transitions throughout the movie will you feel like she’s acting.
Apart from her, we also have Roshan Mathew as Sushant. He’s also great as the under-achieving husband who loves his wife to death. He is ready to go to any length for her, but probably doesn’t do that great with responsibilities.
Another shining star of Choked is Amruta Subhash. I mean, I really don’t have to say a lot about her. Her past work has spoken for themselves. However, the way her acting shifts from desperate and crying to cool and calculating within minutes is praise-worthy.
Choked does have its moments of sluggishness though. There are scenes which probably go on for a minute too long and make me want to skip forward. The movie is a bit chaotic and wanders off sometimes as well. But it’s enjoyable does not hamper the overall flow of the movie too much.
Netflix’s attempt at throwing entertainment our way is great and I’m here for the attempt – especially during these trying times.
Choked released on Netflix on June 5 and is streaming right now.