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Raam Tarat

Published September 16th, 2005 | by Raam Tarat

Chocolate Review

Classification: 12A Director: Vivek Agnihotri Rating: 1.5/5

An inspired if nomadic attempt at re-making the inimitable Usual Suspects. A masterpiece, that in theory, should have been left intact. But then with recent intelligent adaptations such as Sarkar [Godfather] and Salaam Namaste [Nine Months.. and then some] working so well.. why not!?? The answer to that would be – unless you can offer an intelligent new twist on a classic, don’t bother…

The film starts off with a huge heist in London, in which a few million pounds have been misplaced; replaced with a smattering of dead bodies. Two mysterious survivors also avail, in the form of Pipi [Khan] and the tempestuous Sim [Dutta]. They’re labelled terrorists, and journalist Monsoon [Reddy] on seeing their plight urges former lover / megalomaniac lawyer Krish [Kapoor] to take up their case. He does, and gets them released. But on further prodding he realises there’s more to this than meets the eye, as their story doesn’t quite add up.

In flashback we’re introduced to the other members of their musical ‘crew’: wise-cracking Tubby [Warsi], chilled out Devaa [Hashmi] and passionate Rocker [Shetty] as the myriad series of events that has preceded this slowly begin to unravel. And yes, their names sound as out of place in Hindi, as they do in English.

This is a twisted tale of crime, lust, violence and betrayal, hidden identities, double-crosses, and vengeance with an attitude. There’s a fab ensemble cast including sultry beauty queen Tanushree Dutta, an edgy Khan [The Warrior] and an OTT Kapoor. Voluptuous Dutta tantalises and teases her way through the movie, even attempting a Basic Instinct style leg cross… Shot almost entirely in London it’s yet another Indianised view of it, and we get to see the West End, Embankment, Soho by night(!) and many an Irish pub. The dialogues are quite corny and a little unkempt; with Kapoor’s lawyer commenting on murderers, trade unionists, cannibals and governments in the same breath. The lyrics aren’t far off either, with classic lines such as “I’m a shot of tequila” and “Feel me up baby…”

This is a noble attempt at adapting a classic, but sadly it lacks the soul or pace to do so properly. It’s a slickly made product with good music and has been shot innovatively; but if only there was a little less conversation, a little more action. The screenplay is incoherent, the relationship between Krish and Monsoon isn’t believable, and the motives behind the crimes defy any logical conclusion. Lawyer Krish seems so self-obsessed, that his opting to help NRI strangers seems illogical. Also, having set them free [via the law courts] why interrogate them for days on end afterwards??

If you’ve seen the original, quite simply don’t bother going to see this, as the latter half is almost a frame-by-frame copy. Debutante director Agnihotri should be lauded for tackling such a huge project and stellar cast with confidence and elan. Yet the problems lie in the screenplay itself. If only their characters were a little more defined, and their motives believable, we could have been onto something. In attempting to be overtly smart the script loses its soul, and proceedings seem protracted and fake as a result. The Usual Suspects treaded a fine line between genius and falling flat on its face. Luckily it was a stroke of the former, whereas Chocolate doesn’t taste nearly as good.


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