Big or small, Anurag Kashyap’s films have always had multiple layers coming together, with characters breathing fire and tension into their lives. After an array of films across different scales and topics, the director breaks into the demonetization scene with Choked – a petite but largely engaging thriller set within the confines of an apartment and a bank alone.
What’s the story about?
Saiyami Kher plays Sarita, a struggling wife who strongly banks on her job to pay her bills and dues, manage her useless husband, obedient son and the world around her. Sarita is always troubled by the need for more money in her life. Luck strikes when she finds bundles of notes packed in zipper bags, creeping up through the drain of her kitchen. But along comes tragedy, in the form of PM Modi’s demonetization announcement, which puts her in a spot of bother.
Saiyami Kher is a perfect fit for the role, bringing out the worries of the character so beautifully. Right from the start, she portrays the tough situation that she invariably finds herself in with a disturbing act that is relatable to every woman out there. On the other hand is Roshan Mathews, who plays the role of her husband Sushant. Though he does look a little too young for the role, he offers splendid support to the character of Sarita, with perfect dialogue delivery that doesn’t make him look like a newbie. There are also the lovely characters of the apartment, such as the nosy neighbour Tai, the irritating carom buddy in Dinesh and the bank manager.
The combination of Anurag Kashyap and writer Nihit Bhave does bring good things to the fore, with the duo getting really inventive as the world of the film is defined to be a small one. Both in the writing and the directional parts, there are a lot of interesting sparks that keep the train moving throughout – be it the conversational way in which the backstories are brought forward, the demonetization stretches or the magic in the climax. With only six main characters in the story, the proceedings do occasionally move into a dry space, especially in the middle portions of the film. However, the entertaining climax segment of the film brings up the excitement once again and ends the film on a good note. This is where Anurag Kashyap’s ability to hold our attention comes into play, helping us take a cursory look into the world of the supporting characters as well, apart from the two in the middle. The runtime of the film, which is under 2 hours, is more than enough for all the play that the story needs, helping the film tick the right boxes.
Music and Other Departments
The cinematography sits in line with Anurag’s other films such as Ugly and Black Friday, with the dark setting stitched in through the production design. But one element that makes the film better than what it is, is obviously the music by Karsh Kale. The scintillating use of live drums pumps in tension into the proceedings, in addition to a lot of wacky strums, chimes and some EDM. I really enjoyed that Tamil song too!
The performances from Saiyami Kher and Roshan Mathews, along with the superb music and the solid climax, are the biggest positives of Choked.
The film does dip in the middle, where a subplot involving a mysterious follower breaks down the narrative.
Did I enjoy it?
Oh yes. For a film with such a small world and minimal characters, the achievements are laudable.
Do I recommend it?
Choked may not be there along with the best of Anurag Kashyap, but the filmmaker once again proves his mettle with an engaging film that will keep your mind on its toes.