Anurag Kashyap’s new film, written by Nihit Bhave, is a lot of things. A commentary on the unfair effects of demonetisation, a dark comedy about the oneness of a prying middle-class society in Mumbai, a former singer facing the demons of her (choking) past, and a persistent look at a very wobbly marriage. But all of this is processed together by the metaphor that is the title of the film. A singer chokes on one of her opportunities to sing and win fame in life. Later down the line, a new opportunity comes by her, involving a pipe that chokes out wads of cash. This overtly written metaphor is very interesting, and I feel Kashyap’s sensibilities are perfect to generate more excitement out of such an idea.

The scenes are largely punctuated by mundane objects in the house, but don’t feel repetitive. He spruces up the film with Karsh Kale’s tabla-infused-jazz score. This adds on to the air of unpredictability, which is also justified by the turns taken by the narrative. Amruta Subhash’s Sharvari Tai is a classic Kashyap-y character, someone who resorts to deliberate theatrics. With these familiar elements in place, the film proceeds smoothly as the narrative focuses on Sarita (Saiyami Kher) and her peculiar eyes as she waddles through an irresponsible husband and newfound treasures. But it’s only when a clumsily created external obstacle comes in, that the film loses its hold and – forgive me for this – chokes under its own weight. This obstacle, Reddy, has a very corny buildup, is used as a logically contrived red herring for the husband (a mellow but neat Roshan Mathew), and is switched off in a snap in the pre-climax. The film gets back to its unconcealed dark humour in the climax, and by this time has even earned its rights to a really punchy ending, but I’m still having a feeling that it stops short here, content with its moderate wins, like its characters. I guess a rewatch might produce a different reaction, but for now, this is where I am with this film – could have been more.


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