In 2016, the decision of demonetization was taken in India. It received worldwide coverage elaborating on its impact on the world economy. After all, the change in currency notes was bound to create ripples. While the decision had its share of detractors, some also praised it as a kind of groundbreaking approach to take the black money out of the system. Any sane person knows how that went down and how this very idea at its core – to attack the wealthy bunch and their unaccounted cash – and to pave a way for a healthier economy – did not reflect in its effects. The socio-economically backward people from the country actually suffered the blow while the profiters kept gaining profit over their misery.
Cash (2021) is a tale of a similar profiter – Arman Gulati, played by Amol Parashar. A self-proclaimed CEO, he is shown as someone with big ambitions to become an entrepreneur with his ideas – to ultimately reach the heights of Elon Musk. In internet-slang terms, he is a classic Elon worshipper – someone who will look at the opportunities of gaining from any given situation and to find money in it for himself.
On one side, he symbolizes the hopes and dreams of the country’s middle class to grow, he also epitomizes the downside of blindly following an approach without understanding its repercussions. He has tried many ideas before and failed miserably despite his salesmanship. While he is an underdog by that logic, he never behaves like one. He just believes this to be a part of luck and marches on with a capitalistic spirit.
The chaos of demonetization poses an opportunity for this down-on-luck guy. For someone thinking of capitalizing prospects through exploitation, this poses just another chance for his revival – to be a hero of his own story. While not intentional, the character’s innocence to deal with something like money laundering is laughable. Yet, that is how his character is introduced – against a dream of peaceful contentment like his father- and deeply involved in the desires of upgrading in every other instance. In his pursuit of laundering black money, he gets the help of a chartered account cousin and a girl with a similar mindset who eventually becomes his love interest. With a few of such partners in crime, he starts getting the hang of his ‘business idea’. And the dream of making it big seems closer.
However, with characters from different backgrounds, intentions, and motivations, it chooses to build on to none of those beyond a certain level – and results in them being forgettable. Even for writing this very article, I needed to look for the character names in order to note them down! The film mentions those names in its beginning to introduce a generic flair of comedy but conveniently forgets that it is just not about the names or mere descriptors of these characters but how they serve the core of the narrative – or whether they add another layer to their existing arcs. The plot takes a rudimentary approach and makes their entire journey predictable.
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The film delves into none of its deeper notes and chooses the easy routes – to make us laugh at its silliness – to use the charm of its lead actor only to present a sense of bravado for the character – and leaving him with being a cardboard character. It uses the conventional way of infusing an angle of romance where it is not necessary to do so. It adds two song-and-dance sequences that add nothing significant to the story. Due to the non-stickiness of its rhythm and melodies, it feels to have been forcefully added. And they do not stand out either since they follow whatever is trending these days as a Bollywood track. So what you get is a cocktail of decisions that could have been thought out more to make a larger impact.
Cash (2021) also keeps on focusing on the turn of events and the twists that such Bollywood narratives generally crave. However, those momentarily interesting or thrilling twists do not make any significant impact either – be it through the execution – or even to what the ending ultimately stands for. So for a film that is dealing with such an incident, it does not understand the potential of its subject matter. And it does not become a crowdpleaser either due to its lack of interesting characters and uneven comedic points. All of this makes Amol Parashar-starrer Cash a conventional affair of a film that is not so keen about making it big with its storytelling ambitions.