Feature Foreign Language Film
Runtime: 1 hr 37 min
Director: Arun Roy
Cholai is a black comedy based on the 2011 hooch fatalities in Bengal and the bizarre repercussions following the incident. Country liquor, commonly known as ‘Cholai’ is a flourishing business in rural Bengal and has assumed the status of an organized industry. The operation syndicate of illicit liquor works through mobile manufacturing units set up in remote villages. Cheap, readily available and highly addictive – it is often manufactured and distributed with tacit political and law enforcement patronage.
The storyline centres around the lives of 3 siblings Nimai, Nitai and Nata living in rural Bengal. Nimai, the eldest of the three, is a milk vendor. A simpleton and content with his life, he lives a nondescript lifestyle. Nita is con man and is perpetually on the run. Nata – the youngest, makes and sells Cholai for a living. With his wife doubling up as his business partner, Nata is happy with the growing addiction of the villagers to Cholai.
A sudden turn of events is triggered when Nata’s wife inadvertently adulterates a batch of Cholai during the brewing process making it toxic. Within hours the silence in the village breaks into a cacophony of screams and panic stricken cries for help. People who had consumed the toxic Cholai start falling ill and before long the death toll rises to 172. Several lose their eyesight. Over-enthusiastic media soon turns the incident into a social and political drama.
In response to the increasing outrage of the public and the opposition, the Government rushes to launch a compensation scheme for the family members of the victims. A gold-rush ensues following the announcement – from doctors to dead body carriers everyone wants their share of the pie. Deaths due to other causes could be become ‘entitled’ for compensation if the right palms are greased with their share. The village in mourning soon transforms into a scene of greed, corruption and lies.
Cholai is a roller-coaster of emotions intertwined with the lives of the victim’s families and those around them seen through the eyes of the 3 brothers. A story with a promise to leave a lasting impression – Cholai will make the audience laugh and cry at the same time.