'Choked' Movie Review: An Intriguing Prospect That Soon Turns Listless

'Choked' Movie Review: An Intriguing Prospect That Soon Turns Listless

Most Anurag Kashyap films derive their power through a distinct voice. Sometimes it’s literal: dialogues, songs, background score. Sometimes metaphorical: postmodernist whims, absurd humour, gore. His films are feverish and busy, at times too busy, like a supple gymnast on ecstasy, always up for a trick or two. So, even when his movies don’t work, just the spectacle, encompassing all shades of desperation and ambition, invites intrigue. But his latest release, Choked, streaming on Netflix, is an outlier. At the outset, it’s not about quality, but authorial drive: is this even a Kashyap film? Choked opens to a middle-class Mumbai couple, Sarita (Saiyami Kher) and Sushant (Roshan Matthew). Sarita works at a bank; Sushant does nothing. Money is always a problem, and so is the sewage-vomiting kitchen drain. That drain is the film’s Chekhovian gun. Choked’s opening credits shows someone lowering a wad of notes in a similar drain. At some point, you expect the bundles to bob up in Sarita’s kitchen. Watch: ‘Paatal Lok’ Shines a Light on Our Society, Yet Some Accuse it of Being ‘Hinduphobic’ It’s a simple, reliable way to build intrigue, but that is the only thing that keeps you interested during the film’s first 30 minutes. Because otherwise, Kashyap and writer Nihit Bhave give us little to cherish. The mundane settings or unremarkable characters aren’t the problem; it’s the absence of curiosity about their lives and engagement with their personas. Almost right from the start, the film is marked ...
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