Choona Review: In a world saturated with crime-centric series on various OTT platforms, crafting an engaging and compelling show can be a daunting task. Choona revolves around Avinash Shukla, a cabinet minister with connections to real estate giants, who harbors ambitions of becoming the next Chief Minister. To achieve his goal, Shukla needs a massive sum of money to sway MLAs to his side. "Choona" follows a group of individuals who share a deep-seated hatred for Shukla, as they band together to steal a substantial amount of money under Shukla's control. The series attempts to establish each character by dedicating a significant portion of each episode to their backstory. However, the problem lies in the lack of cohesion in this subplot building. These character backstories are presented episodically, making the series feel more like an anthology than a cohesive narrative.
Director: Pushpendra Nath Misra
Cast: Jimmy Shergill, Namit Das, Aashim Gulati, Vikram Kochhar, Atul Srivastava, Gyanendra Tripathi, Monika Panwar
Storyline: The victims of a ruthless politician team up to exact their revenge by plotting an audacious heist.
For the initial five episodes, "Choona" primarily focuses on character development, with the heist taking a back seat. As the series enters its third act, the twists and turns in the plot feel contrived and lack conviction. For instance, a building housing 800 crores of cash is guarded by only twenty to thirty security personnel, and our motley crew manages to distract them with VR headsets playing a VR movie. The overuse of VR technology in both the heist planning and execution feels like a poor scripting choice, reminiscent of the blending of "Mirzapur" with "Mission Impossible."
Jimmy Shergill portrays Shukla, the despised politician, and delivers a performance that successfully conveys the necessary sense of fear associated with the character. Aashim Gulati plays Yakub Ansari, a character whose motivations and actions come across as weak and irrational due to inadequate writing. Vikram Kochhar portrays KP, Gyanendra Tripathi is believable as the police officer Baankey, while Monika Panwar and Niharika Lyra Dutt represent the only female members of the gang. Bela's police academy history is utilized effectively at one point in the series. The standout performance, however, comes from Namit Das, who delivers a hilarious portrayal of Choona Baba (Triloki).
"Choona" suffers from a disjointed narrative structure that introduces characters sequentially, making it difficult for viewers to grasp the series' genre. The initial two episodes feel akin to "Mirzapur," but the tone shifts to a lighter, more emotional one, before finally delving into the heist elements in the last few episodes. This episodic approach to character development delays the establishment of the central conflict. A more exciting approach would have been to explore the characters amidst the heist, similar to the style of "Money Heist."
The series struggles with credibility as it incorporates numerous unconvincing and over-the-top elements to overcome logical roadblocks. From creating VR films and simulations in a matter of days to offering crash courses in astrology, "Choona" pushes the boundaries of believability to an uncomfortable extent.
"Choona" aspires to be the "Ocean's 11" of the Hindi heartland, capturing the milieu of its setting. However, the writing lacks the ambition to deliver something fresh and entertaining. With a sluggish start that takes too long to enter the conflict and a climax that resorts to bizarre plot devices to rationalize events, this Netflix original falls short of expectations, resulting in a generic and uninspiring viewing experience.