Anurag Kashyap’s female friend Shubhra Shetty opinions Choked, offers it 5/5: ‘Definitely lost objectivity now’


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Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap’s girlfriend Shubhra, who brought the script of his new movie Choked to his attention, has reviewed the film, giving it a five star rating. Shubhra posted her review on the website Letterboxd, a social media directory for film fans.

She wrote, “I’m objective and yet altogether too invested to be objective about Choked. In 2015, this script landed on my work desk. I was with Phantom Films and even as a novice script consultant, I was tired of the tropes I was being taught to imitate. The emphasis was on techniques, three-act structures, character graphs and the regular film school education that blocked free flow creativity. In that mundane fatigue of reading high concept, perfectly constructed scripts, Nihit Bhave’s Choked was as welcome as a dirty drain throwing up wads of cash.”


She wrote that in India, “we don’t like to accept squalid realities” and instead “try to redraft our scripts till the perceived perfection is achieved.” Shubhra said that mainstream cinema is dominated by “ostentatious North Indian behaviour” and to “overcompensate for this fake display of wealth and happiness in commercial cinema, the indie film industry pulls out their guns and phalluses, equally unappealing. There was never a ‘normal’ story.”

She added, “The states of the South — Maharashtra included — are actually much gentler experiences. We live through more or less similar systems of patriarchy and class, only the nuances are specifically ours. It’s the scenes that highlighted this in the script (particularly women who are fierce but not aggressive) that I held most protectively against my chest when I had to share it with the filmmaker who would eventually direct it. I had an in with him so I could trust him to do right by it while making sure he didn’t hijack the story.”

She wrote that the crew would always remind Anurag to not let his politics seep into the character of Sarita, played by Saiyami Kher in the film. She wrote, “I didn’t have to be very protective though, because the truth is that while Anurag Kashyap rides on bold and risky narratives, Anurag — just Anurag — is a more introverted and simple person. At least he believes he is. So far he’s only produced, co-written and edited the kind of films he would rather make but his audience would never have accepted of him. He immediately connected with the basic idea of Choked as it stood in 2015, but then the next year, demonetization happened and lent itself to the plot of the film so seamlessly that none of us could even remember what the story was before it. Most of Nihit’s little details of middle class Maharashtrian life were retained and once we began rolling, the crew unanimously ensured that Anurag’s blatant politics were kept out of the family drama. ‘Sushant and Sarita are not you’ they reminded him every chance he took to sneak in a dig at the sh*tshow that is our politics.”

Also read: Choked movie review: Anurag Kashyap demonizes demonetisation in new Netflix film

She concluded by saying that she has seen the film five or six time, and has “definitely lost objectivity by now though I haven’t for a minute forgotten why this story was so close to my heart.”

She wrote, “In every story from every culture, I look for the empathy that makes our experiences universal. Often, that comes from the simple, intimate, almost missable moments. Choked is full of those: the writing, performances, music and visuals. There’s really nothing that stands out and I wish more films were approached with that honesty. If there’s one lesson I’ve learnt (or maybe unlearnt) in these last five years since Choked went from script to screen, it’s that honest stories find connection, not validation.”

Also read: Anurag Kashyap says girlfriend Shubhra Shetty brought him script of Choked: ‘It was like a thank you’

The film, which also stars Roshan Mathew, Amruta Subhash and Rajshri Deshpande, was released on Netflix on June 5, and is dedicated to Shubhra. Anurag in a previous interview had said that it was Shubhra who’d brought the script to him. He told India Today, “She (Shubhra) was the one who brought the script to me and this was around 2015. She didn’t see a lot of my films because she says that she gets disturbed by them. And she said if you made this movie, I will watch it. So, I made this film. It was like a thank you. She has watched it now and she is very happy with it.”

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