Directed by: Anurag Kashyap
Starring: Saiyami Kher and Roshan Mathew
On 8 November 2016, PM Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation of all Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes. This was followed by prolonged cash shortages in the weeks that followed. Anurag Kashyap’s latest offering Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai, released as a Netflix Indian Original, presents the story of a female bank employee married to an out-of-work musician in the backdrop of the demonetisation.
The last decade has been a rather mixed-bag affair for Kashyap. While he tasted great success with Gangs of Wasseypur, he also witnessed a disaster like Bombay Velvet. The films Ugly and Raman Raghav 2.0 have been widely described as experimental. His last two theatrical releases Mukkabaaz and Manmaziyaan failed to create any serious buzz at the box-office despite receiving positive reviews. Kashyap tasted enormous success on the web with the first season of the Netflix Indian Original series Sacred Games which he co-directed with Vikramaditya Motwane.
Kashyap took to the web like fish takes to water but just when it all started to look smooth he faltered with the second season of Sacred Games which he co-directed with Neeraj Ghaywan. He next offering on the web came as part of the anthology film Ghost Stories but his highly experimental segment turned out to be disturbing rather than scary. With Choked, Kashyap seems to have finally started afresh. Perhaps, for the first time since Ugly, he has made a film that looks totally fresh. He has finally done away with his obsession for the macabre, at least temporarily. While the film does bear his signature, it is in a very different space in comparison to almost all his recent films. Saiyami Kher is brilliant in the role of a singer who is forced to take a job at a bank after she fails to win a reality shown.
Few filmmakers in India can claim to direct their actors better than Kashyap when he is in top form. Choked is a great example of what he can achieve with his actors when he gets it right. Choked is not a perfect film but it’s his most refreshing work in a long time.