‘Choked’ when filmmaker falters

Subtle, yet punch-packed, performances by lead actors are a saving grace for this movie by Anurag Kashyap

By   |  Published: 6th Jun 2020  6:51 pm

As filmmakers move from known platform to another to lay bare their wares the need to adjust to the new physics and adjust their dramatic content. The risk they run if they chose to ignore the demand is that the product could fall flat.

Choked is an example. An auteur is expected to do better. Qualitatively, this outing of the master filmmaker falters and constantly. A storyline that fails in the translation from the script to the screen is a poor reflection on the abilities of a filmmaker. Here, since that is not in question, it is perhaps problems of adjustment or lack of interest and required passion to tell the story.

The Pillai couple — Sarita (Saiyami Kher) and Sushant (Roshan Mathew) — live in a small flat with the brat son Sameer (Parthveer Shukla — spirited with his one-liners). Nothing going right in the family. Sarita loves singing but has lost a contest, Sushant has no job and is in debt. His friend Dinesh (Uday Nene) has robbed him of the commission from an insurance policy. Stereotypes aplenty surround the unhappy couple.

While all this is happening, Sarita is busy running the family and working in a local bank. The story has a critical timeline as the narrative begins in October 2016 and pans into the day the Prime Minister announced demonetisation.

Money leaking down the drain and giving Sarita a window of hope from her clogged dreams is out to dry up. She is blackmailed by Reddy (Upendra Limayi) to play an illegal conduit to change currency. The neighbourhood and her husband suspect her behaviour. The rest of the film is how these loose ends are tightened up.

A film of this magnitude is pregnant with multiple alternatives and even styles of moving ahead. Strangely, the reputed filmmaker risks his repute and makes a drab product that is meandering and unsure whether it wants to tell a tale of woman empowerment, marital discord, middle-class morals, crime thriller tale or a good nice mix of it all. The resultant product is distinctly lacklustre.

However, what works for the film is its length and some very sincere performances. While even characters poorly etched try to add meaning to the narrative like in the case of Amrutha Subash, it is the lead pair that adds punch to the film. Roshan Mathew as the husband who has suspicion and resignation in his psyche hands out a very balanced performance. There is understanding of the character and he never goes overboard. The subtle display of his dilemma is very well-portrayed.

Central to the film is the punch-packed performance from Saiyami Kher who returns to clear her credentials after Mirzya. Her body language is perfect. Her emotive skills are balanced. Her gait right. A fine performance who survives the film.This is not a tale about being choked. It sucks more than chokes.

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