Indian stories are as diverse as the country’s cultural landscape. You can see different shades of fun, drama, and action within the same genres.
While remakes and adaptations are becoming popular, original ideas are still accepted with open arms by the audience.
The expansion in Netflix’s slate of Hindi series and films is pointing at its more intense expansion plans.
It was only last week we saw Jaane Jaan, marking Kareena Kapoor Khan’s OTT debut.
Now, we have Choona, another original Hindi show on Netflix.
Skip a few days and Vishal Bhardwaj is waiting with his new film, Khufiya.
On paper, Choona is supposed to be an exciting, politically offbeat, comedy-drama (the focus keyword here is ‘offbeat’).
The eight-episode long series lasts for around five and a half hours.
Is it worth your time? Here is my Choona series review.
A set of streaky people team up together to take revenge on a common enemy by planning a heist. But their target is Shukla, a murky and power-hungry politician, who can go lengths to alleviate hurdles.
What’s the bigger catch? Shukla only follows astrological wisdom. He won’t stand up from his chair if his ‘seer’ doesn’t approve of it.
Created by Pushpendra Nath Misra, Choona stars Jimmy Shergill (Shukla), Monika Panwar (Bela), Namit Das (Triloki), Aashim Gulati (Ansari), Niharika Lyra Dutt (Jhumpa), Atul Srivastava (Panditji), Chandan Roy (Bishnu), Vikram Kochhar (J.P. Yadav), and Gyanendra Tripathi (Baankeylal) in lead roles.
The entire series is narrated by Arshad Warsi.
What Works for Choona?
In Hindi, the phrase Choona lagana translates to swindling someone financially. This is the primary subject of the series.
It has vengeance at its core, which, of course, is nothing new. But the alignment of a simple idea along with a goofy execution does the trick for Choona.
From the outside, if someone were to tell me that I was going to watch a revenge drama, I would have had some preconceived notions about the show.
However, the makers of Choona do not make an obvious idea look and feel obvious.
Its mostly engaging screenplay navigates the narrative much like a formal gathering conducted through unconventional means.
The show excels in weaving humor, engaging conversations, and unconventional relationships into its fabric, expertly sidestepping the pitfalls of clichéd storytelling.
Though it feels frustrating sometimes to witness a wildly thin heist land at the perfect spot in some or the other way, the balancing hurdles do salvage the notion.
Furthermore, an interesting aspect of Choona is its usage of Virtual Reality. This was the first time I witnessed something of this sort in a Hindi show.
I don’t want to spill the beans but they put real characters in a virtual setting to get a firsthand feel of the heist.
Moreover, Choona’s pacing is satiable. I almost finished it in one setting. So, you can rest assured on this front, especially if you are a native Hindi speaker.
Last but not least, situational humor and jokes are entertainingly put forward in the show. Jimmy Shergill is at his best with the dialogues and facial sarcasm.
How are the Performances?
Jimmy Shergill plays Shukla in Choona. His act is versatile to the extent that intensity and comedy are blended vigorously by the actor.
He speaks with wit, his vocal intonations doing most of the work, while Shergill keeps the best reserved for his body language.
The brilliance has not withered away even when it’s been years of underrated toil and hard work for him. He can make you laugh your pants out just by delivering a fiery dialogue.
At the same time, the same dialogue can shake your nerves when spoken with authority by Jimmy Shergill.
Monika Panwar, portraying Bela, offers a standout performance marked by affable charm.
Her portrayal deftly balances simplicity with sharpness, while her occasional displays of fierceness add an exciting layer to her character.
Namit Das, as Triloki, maintains his humorous side and contributes several moments of laughter in Choona.
His well-articulated expressions enhance the overall viewing experience, showcasing his consistent talent that often goes underappreciated in the public eye.
Aashim Gulati is the charmer of Choona. Playing Ansari, he is flamboyant and determined.
His onscreen dominance is alluring, and through the clap-worthy improvisations, Gulati sails high in the series.
The sarcasm in his tone stands second only to Jimmy Shergill.
Atul Srivastava, as Panditji, brings a delightful touch to the series with his chucklesome utterances and clever representations. His unparalleled dialogue delivery sets him apart.
Chandan Roy’s depiction of Bishnu is a mix of severe anger and shrewdness. In Choona, Roy plays more with expressions than dialogue.
Vikram Kochhar is stunning as J.P. Yadav. His fun-filled persona cannot be ignored and wearing the shoes of a hopeless addict, he will surely make you laugh.
Gyanendra Tripathi as Baankeylal is another standout actor. The forced emotions at play when he is around catapult Choona out of rigidness, at times.
Niharika Lyra Dutt portrays Jhumpa in a slightly curtailed screen time. Her straightforward bold attitude makes her character enjoyable.
What Doesn’t Work for Choona?
Well, there are a few fissures in this Hindi show. Firstly, the use of coincidences is limitless. If one thing doesn’t work, the makers come up with an alternative almost instantly.
It goes on to tickle the longstanding debate between creative liberty and realism.
Further, Choona misses out on being technically sound. There are errors in execution. For example, towards the end, characters assemble inside a moving police vehicle and conversate.
Naturally, there should be jitters and jerks when inside the automobile, but none of it is exhibited on the screen.
Another challenge Choona faces is predictability.
The narrative at times hides characters only to reintroduce them later as the story demands, yet the discerning viewer can often anticipate these twists.
Stream or Skip?
It is a thumbs-up from my side. It successfully combines political intrigue with witty comedy, cleverly laying out the blueprint for a heist, making it a worthwhile watch.