Cast: Saiyami Kher, Roshan Mathew, Amruta SubhashDirector: Anurag Kashyap
It’s not difficult to recognise an Anurag Kashyap film, at least till now. The cynical characters, dark spaces (literally and figuratively) and colloquial language give viewers ample hints. The look and feel of a Kashyap film keeps his loyal fan base intrigued. They know what to expect from his films, but they also want to see how the filmmaker goes about it. After all, writing has always been his strength.
On that account, Choked-Paisa Bolta Hai is a typical Kashyap film, but there’s a definite shift in his style since Mukkabaaz. When I interacted with him a couple of days back, he said he was more into exploring relationships now. To me, it wasn’t a new trait in his films. He had already investigated the same in That Girl In Yellow Boots, and to some extent in Raman Raghav 2.0. Both these films were about unknowingly touching, rather impacting the lives of relatives. But since Manmarziyaan, his fascination for crime dramas has been wavering a bit.
Manmarziyaan wasn’t like DevD in the way that it wasn’t self-destructive, but it had a unique sense of urgency. There was an unexplained nervous excitement. In Choked, he has elaborated on this emotion.
Sarita (Saiyami Kher) and Sushant Pillai (Roshan Mathew) live in a Mumbai society which has a weird objectivity to it. The people are quite social, but also very self-centered. For example, Amruta Subhash plays a neighbour who can be both good and evil at the same time. Similarly, Uday Nene’s Dinesh keeps switching sides as if he is not sure which side to tilt.
One day, after the demonetisation, Sarita finds a couple of bundles of currency notes coming out of her kitchen sink pipe. She has always dreamt of a better life that her regular job as a cashier could never fulfill, so she decides to cross the moral boundary and take the money. As many bank cashiers, who allegedly deposited notes without substantial paper trail post-demonetisation, she also goes for it, but it takes a toll on her conscience.
Kashyap says that the demonetisation part came late in the story written by Nihit Bhave, but it’s so integral to the final product. Choked is structured as a thriller, and that wouldn’t have been possible without using demonetisation as a backdrop. It also allows Kashyap to make pointed remarks on the futility of the entire exercise.
It’s hard to avoid the feeling of ‘crowds all over’ in any Mumbai-based film, so the director has decided to use it as an asset, which means the sea of people could drown emotions and save people from being spotted. The physical proximity of the people living in the same society has also been explored well as to how nothing can remain hidden even if you try.
Saiyami and Roshan’s crumbling marriage plot is probably the weakest link in the film. Not spilling beans here, but it lacks intensity, at least the kind that is required in a limited duration storytelling.
Acting wise, Saiyami has gotten into the groove and she has handled anxious scenes quite well. Roshan Mathew’s sensible husband act will also get takers.
One really good thing about Choked-Paisa Bolta Hai is its somewhat neutral narrative. Contrary to expectations, he doesn’t take sides. In fact, most of the time, he doesn’t even show the faces of the culprits. There are pretty defined victims though.
Then there are super-dramatic but regular metaphors. You would decipher them with ease.
At nearly 2-hour runtime, Choked-Paisa Bola Hai has all the elements of a good indie. It’s not the Kashyap you generally expect, but it’s good enough.
Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/@nawabjha