Anurag Kashyap’s Choked on Netflix: This demonetisation-themed satire begins brilliantly, but collapses after a point

Posted on June 13, 2020

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The film is rife with symbols, ripe for readings. But when the plot kicks in, it goes all over the place.

Spoilers ahead…

I‘ll begin with an aside: The title of Anurag Kashyap’s latest film, Choked, reminded me of Utpalendu Chakraborty’s 1982 Bengali drama, Chokh. And it’s not just that they sound similar. Both are topical, political films that weave their stories around systemic oppression. Chokh came a few years after the Emergency, but its story was set in those dark times. Choked comes a few years after Demonetisation (the word deserves a capital D, no?), but its story is set in 2016, in those… dark times. Also, the titles of both films refer to body parts of the common man: the older film revolves around the protagonist’s eyes, the new one about the protagonist’s throat. Or more specifically, the voice: the common man’s voice that ends up suppressed, stifled, choked. This is literalised and metaphor-ised when Sarita (Saiyami Kher), who’s normally a good singer, freezes in front of an audience during the taping of a reality show. That’s right. She chokes.

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