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Choked (Netflix):  A Moderate Satire  Redeemed by Actors



Choked  Paisa  Bolta Hai

Starring: Saiyami  Kher, Roshan Matthew, Amruta Subhash,Rajshree Deshpande

Directed  by : Anurag Kashyap

Rating: ***

 Our prime minister Narendra  Modi   makes a  guest appearance in Choked, Anurag Kashyap’s latest  homage to the spirit  of  quirkiness  where  the  characters are for  once, not  killing each other. This is  Kashyap’s first film where no one  one dies a brutal  death with their head smashed by  a hammer or  blown away by  a  gunshot.Thank Kashyap, the God of Gore,  for small mercies.

Everyone lives in Choked,  even when demonetization  nearly kills them all. The  people who inhabit Kashyap’s universe this  time are  way too gentle  by his standards.The most violent occurrence is a scuffle  between  two friends  over  a game  of  carrom.

Is the Wasseypur  sharpshooter softening as  he grows older? There  is distinctive tenderness in tone specially when  it comes to portraying the  low middleclass couple Sarita and Sushant. She is the earning member. He is  the house husband who is workless and therefore worthless.

“Tumhare  paas  time hi time hai,” this is among the many spiteful  digs  Sarita makes at Sushant. But he is no a drunken wife-beater  . In fact his  protective love  comes across  most effectively in  actor Roshan Matthew’s  performance. Matthews is  very very involved in finding a way out of his character’s  aimlessness.

Saiyami Kher  is  the  film’s hero. She  is transformed  in body language speech and appearance as  an overworked  underpaid  bank accountant who  one night wakes up to find wads  of  bank currency  bubbling out of her  clogged(ummm…choked) kitchen sink. This Guy Ritchie-Rich  intervention  could   have been savagely funny were  it not so sad.

Saiyami projects working-class greed with conviction.  The very gifted Amruta  Subhash is  also excellent as  Saiyami’s neighbour. As we meet these  workingclass characters there are wedding preparations going  on   in Amruta Subhash’s  home.And the lady is trying to curb her growing hysteria that comes bubbling out when Modiji announces the demonetization. How will she  now make all the wedding payments? Will the tent-wala accept the crash in place  of the cash?

There is a quirkily cute  scene where we meet the bride-to-be   just once . The scene  written with rare care and  casual  fastidiousness (by  Nihit Bhave ) takes a sly dig at the  side-effects  of over-indulgence in  the social media.

Post-demonetization  the narrative loses steam and becomes one mishmash of hurling episodes. As  the economy slumps , so  does the  narrative, leaving us finally with a film that is better than most of what  Kashyap has done in his career, but still not  good enough to be called a breakthrough study  of  post-demonetization India when suddenly the  1000 rupee note fell apart.

Choked stays afloat.whenever  it seems to  sink into the sink water the actors pull  it out .They seem far more protective of  the  film’s destiny than  it deserves.

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