Delectably unsettling
75%Overall Score

Streaming on Netflix

Once again, Anurag Kashyap brings his A-game, this time directly to Netflix instead of the big screens. A film like Choked transcends the medium with its crisp and intense story-telling; complete with Kashyap’s signature. With moments full of anxiety-induced gasps, Choked proves that it’s titled aptly. Sarita Sahastrabuddhe Pillai (Saiyami Kher), a bourgeois bank employee, is stuck between chores and making ends meet, all while putting up with a dead weight husband Sushant (Roshan Matthew). On the surface, she has a sweet son, a good job, and friends, but she is always uneasy. In the wake of a defining moment that she thinks damaged her marriage, Sarita is exasperated and could use a win. She finds a source of seemingly unlimited cash and then comes demonetization because 2016.

Sarita is the soul of Choked

The film commits itself to an honest portrayal of a middle-class woman’s struggles, her life and her fleeting moments of relief – all woven in pretty organically. It comes in small packets, like her indifference towards politics because she works around the clock. Or her anxiety while handling a seemingly small amount. Her simple story may lack the grueling nature of Kashyap’s other ventures but the movie still scores high on setting up an intense narrative. A talented actor Sayami comes through for Sarita and completely draws you in.

A small commentary on demonetization

Choked is set in the year 2016 – the one with demonetisation – and offers us a slice of the chaos and scams that ensued post the PM announced demonetization with little warning. Being a bank employee and also someone with some unexplained old notes, she faces the brunt on both ends and that’s an interesting arc. Some people jumped at the opportunity to run some scams while some others scampered to settle urgent bills. However, the demonetization happens somewhere in the middle of the movie and it seems that the movie goes on a bit too long after that.

One plot point too many

Towards the end, the film adds too much to follow and loses steam to an extent. Barring this hiccup in an otherwise taut narrative, Choked keeps your interest piqued. The supporting cast is at its optimum and though supportive, those characters are so damn well written.

Absolutely watch. The feeling of impending doom is strong with this one. The whole thing is just intentionally and delectably uneasy and you enjoy it. Choked scores strong on the cast, music, and most of the plot.

Director: Anurag Kashyap
Writer: Nitin Bhave
Cast: Sayami Kher, Roshan Matthew, Amruta Subhash
Music: Karsh Kale
Language: Hindi
Streaming on: Netflix