When you watch so many series on different OTT platforms with crime as its base layer, after a point, you might get a feeling that writing a compelling series is relatively easy as they don’t have the time restriction. I happened to watch Choona around the time my mind questioned the structure of most of the popular series released on Indian OTT platforms. Pushpendra Nath Misra’s heist comedy was so bland and stretched that I felt bad for questioning the novelty of some good shows on various platforms.
Avinash Shukla is a cabinet minister who has links with real estate giants and plans to topple the government to become the next CM. For that, he needed a humongous sum to take MLA’s to his side. What we see in Choona is the effort of a group of people who hated Shukla for various reasons, teaming up to take this whopping amount of money that comes under Shukla’s responsibility. Who are these people, why they hated Shukla, and how they eventually pulled off the heist is what we witness in this series.
Pushpendra Nath Misra tries to establish each character by devoting a huge part of each episode to them. The issue is the lack of interlinking in this subplot building. The back stories of each character are shown so episodically that, at one point, it felt like an anthology series. For almost the first 5 episodes, the focus is on the characters, and the heist is less of a concern for the makers. And when the series eventually enters the third act, the twists are far too convenient and don’t really have the level of conviction. A building with 800 crores of money has around twenty-thirty security personnel. And our team manages to distract them by giving them VR headsets to watch a VR movie. VR is again used in planning the heist, and these Mirzapur met Mission Impossible-style solutions were really poor scripting choices.
Jimmy Shergill plays the role of Shukla, who is hated by everyone. The sense of fear that was needed in the portrayal of that character was there in his performance. Aashim Gulati gets to play the role of Yakub Ansari, a man who wants to avenge the death of his uncle. Like almost all the other roles in the series, the writing of this character is so weak that you will find Ansari’s unreasonable and idiotic reactions pretty annoying. Vikram Kochhar plays the role of grumpy KP. Gyanendra Tripathi, as the police officer Baankey, was okay in his role. Monika Panwar as Bela and Niharika Lyra Dutt as Jhumpa are the only female members of the gang, and Bela’s police academy history has been used at one point impressively. Panchayat fame Chandan Roy is also there, along with Atul Srivastava. The only performance that sort of stayed with me for the kind of entertainment it provided came from Namit Das, who was hilarious as the Choona Baba in his role as Triloki.
The writing has a very scattered structure where they are sequentially introducing all these characters. Because of that, you almost don’t even get the series’ genre. In the first two episodes, it’s like watching something like Mirzapur. Then the shape suddenly shifts to being a bit more light and emotional, and it is only in the last three or four episodes we get to see the series in the heist space. As I already said, the episodic linear take on each character is sort of delaying the establishment of the conflict. It would have been a lot more exciting if they had decided to explore the characters amid the heist, similar to a Money Heist. From creating VR films and simulations in a few days to learning astrology as a crash course, the amount of unconvincing, over-the-top elements they have included in the series to tackle logical roadblocks is way too much to tolerate.
Choona is a series that gets lost in the process of world-building. Creator director Pushpendra Nath Misra wants the series to be the Oceans 11 of the Hindi heartland. Even though he has captured the milieu of the setting, the writing has no great aspiration to provide something fresh and entertaining. With the series taking way too much time to enter its conflict and the climax using some bizarre stuff to make things logical, I found this Netflix original generic and unexciting.
With the series taking way too much time to enter its conflict and the climax using some bizarre stuff to make things logical, I found this Netflix original generic and unexciting.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended