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Shoplifted and shopworn



FRAME-BY-FRAME COPY: Chocolate

Chocolate
Genre: Drama
Director: Vivek Agnihotri
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Irrfan, Tanushree Dutta, Suniel Shetty, Sushma Reddy, Arshad Warsi, Emraan Hashmi
Storyline: A London-based lawyer has to save two Indians suspected in a bank robbery and a bomb blast.
Bottomline: Shoplifted chocolate damaged in transit.

"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." "How do you shoot the devil in the back? What if you miss? " "He kills their kids, he kills their wives, he kills their parents and their parents' friends. He burns down the houses they live in and the stores they work in, he kills people that owe them money. And like that he was gone. Underground. Nobody has ever seen him since. He becomes a myth, a spook story that criminals tell their kids at night... And no-one ever really believes." Christopher McQuarrie, winner of the Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay (1995) will not be pleased to find out that a Hindi film has more than half a dozen of his lines translated, almost verbatim. Keyser Soze becomes Murtaza Arzai in Inspired Films' "Chocolate," a film so dishonest that it makes you cringe.

There is a huge difference between what is inspired and what is plagiarised. And that difference comes out when you replicate exactly the same opening scene, the same lines and dumb down the smart idea to an extent that destroys the entire brilliance of it.

Vivek Agnihotri's film is not even as much a deviation as Sanjay Gupta's "Kaante" was from "Reservoir Dogs" though even "Kaante" pinched a line or two from the original ("Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy, or are you gonna bite?").

"Chocolate" is not a frame-by-frame copy and many times during the film, you wish it was. The visual brilliance (cinematography: Attar Singh Saini) and the slick editing (Satyajeet Gazmer) do not compensate for the poorly written lines that make a caricature out of the leading man Krishna Pandit (Anil Kapoor), a noted lawyer who hogs the cover of GQ magazine for his flair for winning the most difficult of cases.

As his journalist friend Monsoon (Sushma Reddy) gets him to help two Indians suspected in the involvement of a blast in a boat and a bank robbery, Pandit wants to know the truth from the suspects Pipi (Irrfan) and Sim (Tanushree Dutta).

How did their fellow band members and associates Rocker (Suniel Shetty), Tubby (Arshad Warsi) and Devaa (Emraan Hashmi) die? What exactly is their involvement with the mysterious Murtaza Arzai? And, what on the planet is 'Chocolate' and why is the film called that, are some of the questions the film answers in its semi-absorbing narrative, with plenty of help from the original. The overtly overdone sexual references turn out to be pretentious and very wannabe Hollywoodish.

Earnest job

Anil Kapoor does an earnest job, puts in a decent effort but is let down by the lines, Irrfan does a pretty neat underplayed version of what Pankaj Kapoor did with greater charisma in "Dus" reprising the same role of what Kevin Spacey did in the original.

Arshad Warsi sparkles with his comic timing and gives the film a few genuine laughs while Sushma Reddy has very little to do but act goofy and insecure about her crush Krish. Poor Suniel Shetty gets into another one of those ensemble roles he's so used to and lets his long hair do all the acting.

There is plenty of oomph in the form of Tanushree Dutta. While the song and dance sequences will ensure that the front-benchers are kept happy, the verbose interrogation sequences are likely to turn them off.

And, the subsequent dumbing-down of the revelation sequence in the climax is guaranteed to strongly disappoint the classy audience, especially those who have seen the original.

Hence, this dose of shoplifted "Chocolate" is prescribed only for those who haven't seen the role that fetched Kevin Spacey his Oscar.

SUDHISH KAMATH

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