Choked catches the pulse of the nation amid the outrage and uncertainty of present times. If Paatal Lok and Betaal offended the self-proclaimed nationalists, ‘Choked’ streaming on Netflix goes a step ahead through its realistic screenplay, engaging direction and subtle performances in conveying the Indian middle-class psyche.
Anurag Singh Bohra | New Delhi
As the unlocking phase begins across India, it presents a unique timing for storytelling around a socio-political theme. Nihit Bhave and Anurag Kashyap this time bring up a social drama on the repercussions of the historic demonetisation from a middle-class perspective.
If Paatal Lok and Betaal offended the self-proclaimed nationalists, ‘Choked’ streaming on Netflix goes a step ahead through its realistic screenplay, engaging direction and subtle performances in conveying the Indian middle-class psyche. Bhave and Kashyap depict a political juggernaut without getting preachy. Kashyap once again proves his worth as a craftsman and justifies his political stand through a simple yet captivating narrative. His cinematic sense and ambitious vision is far braver than his controversial tweets.
Bhave’s script is in total sync with Kashyap’s dark genre school of filmmaking. The understanding between the director and the screenwriter is visible in every frame. Apart from demonetisation the film also takes an artistic jibe on reality shows and delves deep into the psyche of failed reality TV stars. The drama that unfolds in every scene in Choked doesn’t go overboard or melodramatic while retaining the audience engagement.
Saiyami Kher gets the role of a lifetime post her terrific portrayal of a RAW agent in Neeraj Pandey’s ‘Special Ops.’ Her mannerisms, body language,, and expressions aptly showcase the dilemma, frustration, remorse, and the vulnerabilities of Sarita. A challenging role of a working mother and wife enacted effortlessly. Her chemistry with Roshan Mathew, who plays Sushant is charismatic. Mathew is spot on with his lines and completely embraces his character. The actor gives a memorable performance in his Hindi debut with subtle nuances and poise while portraying the character’s psychology. Kashyap must be credited for introducing one more outstanding talent to the Hindi cinema.
Amruta Subhash, who was revered for her character in ‘Sacred Games – Season 2,’ once again nails it as Sharvari Tai. Rajshri Deshpande, who gained popularity as Subhadra Gaitonde in ‘Sacred Games –Season 1’ is impressive and noteworthy in a brief role as the neighbor Neeta. Deshpande shows promise in each and every frame in a limited screen presence. Upendra Limaye as Reddy is convincing and hateful in a dark role. Every actor on board plays their character with utmost artistic finesse and completely surrenders to the narrative.
Costume designer Prashant Sawant has done a decent job with Saiyami, Subhash, and Deshapande’s wardrobe. Hair and makeup designer Dhananjay Prajapati also gives an unbelievable makeover to Saiyami and does equal justice to Subhash and Deshpande’s look.
Sylvestor Fonseca makes this one more than a one – time watch with his cinematography that complements the plot as well as Kashyap’s dark cinematic universe. Lyrics by Garima Obrah, Sabri Brothers, and Christopher Pradeep are average, while Ruchita Arora’s music is fair enough as per the genre and tone of the story. However, Gautam Nair and Karsh Kale leave you spellbound with their sound design and original score with live drums respectively. Nair and Kale set the pace of the film with thrilling sounds and drums. Konark Saxena is brilliant at editing, although the movie somehow becomes dull in the last thirty minutes.
Overall, it’s yet another brave attempt by Kashyap through his new production company. Choked catches the pulse of the national outrage and uncertainty in present times.