A comedy about demonetisation, one of the most painful decisions taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in recent years? It’s possible – and entertaining too, as Cash proves.

The Disney+ Hotstar release gives a new spin to the age-old Mumbai hustle. Serial start-up founder Armaan (Amol Parashar) has big dreams but no investors to back them up. One of Armaan’s ideas is to eradicate manual labour by replacing human with automatons.

Fortunately, that project doesn’t get off the ground. And even more fortuitously, there are flesh-and-blood people in charge of Cash. Directed by Rishab Seth, based on a story by him, Aarsh Vora and Vishesh Bhatt and written by Seth and Vora, Cash is a hilarious and sly send-up of the fuss over black money that led to the demonetisation announcement.

Armaan’s latest idea finally gets going – converting piles of now-useless notes into legitimate currency for a commission. The money belongs to Armaan’s uncle, the bewigged and corrupt customs agent Sanjay (Swanand Kirkire). With the help of his very superstitious and loyal chartered accountant friend Vivek (Kavin Dave), Armaan leaps into money laundering with the aim of funding his start-up.

Fellow hustler and future soulmate Neha (Smriti Kalra) gets roped in too. Friends with the masochistic goon Qazi (Krishna Singh Bisht) – possibly the only human who welcomes custodial torture when the prospect rears its ugly head – Neha nudges Armaan and Vivek towards their goal.

Unfortunately for the lot, Sanjay’s overlord is the politician Gautam (Gulshan Grover), who can’t wait for the six months it will take for the money to be laundered. Also popping up from time to time to interrupt the crew’s efforts is the overzealous police officer Tukaram (Anand Alkunte), who despises black money as much as the bearded man who made a fateful announcement on television on the night of December 8, 2016.

Rishab Seth keeps his foot on the pedal with confidence and verve, never forgetting to steer the performances – uniformly good, especially by Amol Parashar – and always aware of the zaniness of the material. Subversive jokes and wacky sight gags send up the moralistic obsession with ill-gotten wealth and the hollowness of the entire exercise.

Indeed, the makers and the cast are having so much fun that they let the movie run on for 118 minutes when they could have ended matters earlier. Despite moments of indulgence, Cash works well as a satire about a fateful moment whose effects are still rippling through the economy.

Cash (2021).