Planet Bollywood
Chocolate
 
Producer: Spice Entertainment
Director: Vivek Agnihotri
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Anil Kapoor, Arshad Warsi, Suniel Shetty, Emraan Hashmi, Tanushree Dutta and Sushma Reddy.
Music: Pritam
Lyrics: Mayur Puri, Praveen Bhardwaj, Dev Kohli, Ajeet Sri
Genre: Suspense
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Approximate Running Time: 150 mins
Film Released on: 16 September 2005
Reviewed by: Shahid Khan  - Rating: 4.0 / 10
 
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Public Rating Average: 5.2 / 10 (rated by 403 viewers)
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´The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn´t exist.´

Irrfan Khan takes this classic line from Bryan Singer´s "The Usual Suspects" and reproduces it in Hindi. This is not the only line stolen from the film but much of the story and the main twist too has been lifted by writer/director Vivek Agnihotri.

The police in London arrest Sim ( Tanushree Dutta) and PP (Irrfan Khan) after an explosion on a boat and the theft of millions of pounds. The British police are a bunch of comic fools with one cop yelling at the sky after the theft "where is the bloody money!?"

And thereafter in the interrogation, we have the police screaming at the two suspects, "Al Qaeda! Al Qaeda!" to which Tanushree Dutta responds, "I don´t know what you are talking about!" She must think that ´Al Qaeda´ is the name of a new lipstick brand or something. Dutta is the quintessential femme fatale - sure she´ll make love to you if you offer her a lavish lifestyle but do make sure that she doesn´t have any plans to chop your legs off while seducing you.

It is hinted that the police suspects every Asian in England of being a potential terrorist. In fact, the film isn´t kind to anyone involved in today´s political scenario. Pot shots are taken at the British police, Osama Bin Laden, George Bush, Tony Blair and even the Queen of England.

Enter Anil Kapoor as Krish the eccentric lawyer. He likes working in the office without his trousers on much to the delight of his cooing secretary. Sushma Reddy is the stereotypical journalist - she is clumsy, she likes her donuts and she is sexy in a dishevelled way. These two meet the other two to separate the wheat from the chaff, the truth from the lies. Only it isn´t easy with PP and Sim recalling a bizarre assortment of events.

Down memory lane and those were the happier days when PP and Sim were accompanied by Tubby, Devaa and Rocker ( Arshad Warsi, Emraan Hashmi and Suniel Shetty). The gang were united together in their musical hobby and a break came their way when a company head boss requested them to compose a jingle. This initial starting point of the flashback leads to twists and turns with PP and Sim describing each and every death of their friends with an almost devilish relish.

The forceless script throws up a lot of red herrings and some wandering scenes are surreal. The sequence where the gang of friends chase a man off the train because he was humming a jingle of theirs is absolutely bizarre. Arshad Warsi cracks humorous one-liners; the gags act as an acknowledgment for the absurdity of it all.

Surprisingly, Dutta and Hashmi are not paired opposite each other romantically even though the director is said to have deleted a kissing scene between the two (Dutta and Hashmi were also in “Aashiq Banaya Aapne”, a film that hit the cinemas a couple of weeks back). The two must have felt a sense of déjà vu as both the films are set in London. The London crowd scenes lack the polish with background extras smiling at the camera. Directors should take more care to prevent this from happening as it breaks the aura of illusion in a movie-watching experience.

The unimaginative side of Bollywood likes to follow the trends of Hollywood but is ten years behind when it comes to adopting them. Only now the commercial thrillers are adopting that strategy of the BIG TWIST – a regrettable trend that often makes redundant any plot development achieved before it. The lazy writers of “Chocolate” have slightly changed the set up of the story and the way it ends, a tactic that renders the twist as flabby and inedible as a rotting mars bar.

With a dash of “The Matrix” (we have Suniel Shetty somersaulting over laser beams), Vivek Agnihotri’s plagiarised piece of work overdoes it on the technical front. Split screens, slow-motion action, and jump cuts; name every editing and lighting device and this movie has it. When the story is this uninvolving, the jarring technical aspects are enough to give you a headache.

Only Irrfan Khan is a pleasure to watch in his reprise of the role that Kevin Spacey performed in the original. He has the knack of making every word in his dialogue speak volumes. Cast against him, Anil Kapoor strikes a false note by exaggerating the eccentricity of his character. Slowly but quietly, Khan steals the show from the other performers who look lost in such an unconventional screenplay.

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