Choked (2020) Hindi Movie Review – Veeyen


‘Choked’ is in many ways Kashyap’s most underdone film as yet, and while it remains that some of his former works have been applauded for their purposive lack of refinement, this would probably be not. Rather, it’s one of those films that sets out to do a lot more than what finally appears on screen, and which strangulates itself in its endeavours to do so.


If you are on the lookout for a stringent, knock-on-the head political statement in Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai’, you are in for a royal disappointment. All that pre-release hullabaloo that at least hushedly suggested that it could just be a sharp, satirical knife slicing right through the demonitization cheese seems to be way off mark, and Kashyap’s film comes across as one that falls short on both the bark and the bite.

Sarita (Saiyami Kher) finds the going tough, and makes do with her cashier job at the local bank, even as her currently jobless husband Sushant (Roshan Mathew) busies himself playing the carom with the neighbours. When the gurgling drain pipe at the kitchen sink starts puking out a few packets of hard cash along with some slimy water in the dead of the night, Sarita cannot believe her luck and the star shining above and starts stashing away the money in a hurry.

‘Choked’ is as much about the bunged water pipes at Sarita’s apartment as it is about the suffocation that rules her very being that includes stifling memories of a not-so-distant past wherein her disastrous performance at a reality show had transformed everything about her life for the worse. Caught in a blame game where she alternately pins the guilt on herself and her husband, Sarita wades neck deep through the clogged waters all around, miserably hoping to find her way out of all the grime that threatens to drown her down.

The cityscape that Kashyap focuses on in the film is no less muggy, and Sarita’s journeys to the office see her edging her way across busy streets, crowded markets and crammed local trains. Her apartment is no less a picture of accommodation, where adjacent lives budge into  each other, by way of leaking waterways, soaked ceilings and soggy floors.

Sushant keeps playing the brave warrior that he knows he could never be in the losing battles that he wages, and while Sarita is deftly sketched in precise, particular strokes, her husband’s portrait appears hazy at best. His doubts that his wife might just be having an affair are never particularly expressed, and he seems on the verge of letting go despite a couple of timid attempts to rake the truth up. Equally confounding is Saritha’s disinterest in finding the actual origin of all the money that keeps floating down the drain, and when she gives up after meekly stirring around on the rooftop water tank, it appears downright odd.

Where ‘Choked’ falters terribly is when it brings up the almost choked discussion on demonetization, where Kashyap makes a dig or two on it and remains content, while ostensibly craving to state a lot more. The political statement that ‘Choked’ makes is downright bland, and the filmmaker’s strategy to employ repeated visuals of a distressed population breaking down bank doors and swarming the cash counters simply doesn’t work. Equally unproductive is the subtle ploy that he employs to assert that the decision was a fiasco, and all it manages to do is to lend a mock tinge to a climax that had fizzled out long before it had begun.

What it does score on, is on the exceptionally fine performances that its leading pair comes up with, and ‘Choked’ would probably be discussed in terms of the outstanding feat that Saiyami Kher has on offer. Equally impressive is Roshan Mathew and his delightful Hindi diction, that strikes all the right notes at all the right places. There is Amrutha Subhash as well, who does a decent job most of the time, but who in ‘Choked’ surprisingly lets go of the finesse in her performance.

‘Choked’ is in many ways Kashyap’s most underdone film as yet, and while it remains that some of his former works have been applauded for their purposive lack of refinement, this would probably be not. Rather, it’s one of those films that sets out to do a lot more than what finally appears on screen, and which strangulates itself in its endeavours to do so.


Verdict: Average


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