The job of a promo is to arouse curiosity for a film, besides creating all-round awareness. And that's what the eye-catching and attention-grabbing promos of CHOCOLATE did prior to its release. The stylish promos coupled with the ensemble star cast have created quite a buzz within and outside the industry.
So, is CHOCOLATE as delicious as its packaging? Or is it a bitter experience?
CHOCOLATE is the desi adaptation of Bryan Singer's Hollywood flick THE USUAL SUSPECTS [Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Spacey, Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Pollak, Benicio Del Toro]. Also, CHOCOLATE borrows from dozens of sources -- Hitchcock, Scorsese, the Coen brothers and just about every master of the genre, past or present.
CHOCOLATE also reminds you of Vijay Anand's classic JEWEL THIEF [Ashok Kumar, Dev Anand, Vyjayantimala, Tanuja] in terms of narrating the story. The story is told in two different time frames: In the present and looking back at the events. Also, the persons attempting to put the missing links in CHOCOLATE are con men themselves, itï¿½s similar to Ashok Kumarï¿½s character in JEWEL THIEF.
An interesting concept without doubt and debutante director Vivek Agnihotri presents the tale stylishly. But somewhere down the line, you realize that the screenplay couldï¿½ve been far more absorbing. Also, unlike JEWEL THIEF, the goings-on fail to involve you in the proceedings and you tend to get confused when the story moves back and forth every 15 minutes.
Clearly, CHOCOLATE falls short of expectations. Itï¿½s a case of body beautiful, minus soul!
Christmas Eve, London. While the snow-clad city gets ready to celebrate the festival, a series of bizarre incidents shatter the Christmas calm. Two luckless Indians [Irrfan Khan, Tanushree Dutta] find themselves hauled by the London police.
Eminent lawyer Krish [Anil Kapoor] steps in at this juncture and decides to put up a legal fight to safeguard the rights of the Indians. He tries to peel off layer after layer, not realizing that the truth is something else. He realizes it only towards the end, but itï¿½s too late by then.
CHOCOLATE is about seven characters primarily:
- Krish [Anil Kapoor] is a sharp and egotistical lawyer who has unmatched legal skills.
- Rocker [Suniel Shetty] is an obsessed lover, wanting to marry Sim.
- Pipi [Irrfan Khan] is a soulful thinker who prefers to tread the right path.
- Tubby [Arshad Warsi] is a happy go lucky guy.
- Sim [Tanushree Dutta] is a temptress.
- Devaa [Emran Hashmi] is a passionate musician.
- Monsoon [Sushma Reddy] is an associate of Krish.
A suspense thriller ought to involve you from the word ï¿½Goï¿½, but CHOCOLATE does that half-heartedly. With an interesting premise on hand, the debutante director couldï¿½ve come up with a fare that wouldï¿½ve kept you on tenterhooks for the next two hours. The script couldï¿½ve done with ample twists and turns, sub-plots that move in a serpentine fashion and most importantly, less talk and more action.
Agnihotri succeeds in keeping the suspense alive till the very end, but the incidents laced in the drama are not as impactful. Yes, a number of sub-plots do grab your attention. For instance, the Afghaniï¿½s past and the heist from a moving van. Also, making Sim look one mysterious woman works to an extent. You actually start wondering what this girl is up to and is she really taking Rocker for a ride? Surely, CHOCOLATE keeps increasing your curiosity levels at these points.
But the narrative gets too verbose and talk-heavy and thatï¿½s its biggest undoing. Dialogue-baazi is fine as long as you support it with interesting twists and turns. In CHOCOLATE, the screenplay tends to make the viewer confused, especially the reasons that prompt the five members to commit one crime after another. Also, the climax, even though it takes you by surprise, will not appeal to the aam janta.
Director Vivek Agnihotri knows the power of technique and thereï¿½s no denying that CHOCOLATE is a refined product. The execution of a few sequences deserves good marks, but Agnihotri is saddled by a script that the average Indian cinegoer wouldnï¿½t comprehend at all.
For any story to succeed, and if the story involves a number of characters, it ought to be told with utmost simplicity, even if you garnish it with snazzy camera movements. Besides, the story ought to have the power to keep you hooked right till the finale. CHOCOLATE appeals in bits and spurts, not in totality!
Preetamï¿½s music is a plus factor. ï¿½Halka Halka Sa Yeh Samaï¿½, ï¿½Mummyï¿½ and ï¿½Jhuki Jhukiï¿½ are tracks that have already attained popularity and they have been placed at the right places in the narrative. The picturization of the last two tracks is quite erotic. ï¿½Khalishï¿½ is well worded, but how one wishes the song-situation wouldï¿½ve been appropriate.
Cinematography [Attar Singh Saini] is splendid. The ï¿½winter lookï¿½ of London has been captured with ï¿½lan. The film bears a rich look throughout and the producers [Ragini, Vibha] have spared no expenses in realizing the dream they mayï¿½ve envisioned at the outset!
CHOCOLATE has a plethora of characters, but three names get more prominence than the rest: Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan and Tanushree Dutta.
Anil is in his element, though not as brilliant as in MY WIFEï¿½S MURDER. Irrfan is terrific, especially in sequences with Anil. A particular sequence that needs to be mentioned here is that of Irrfan talking about the September 11 attack on the U.S. Tanushree looks every inch a seductress. The actor was plain average in her first release [AASHIQ BANAYA AAPNE], but is excellent here. She looks alluring as well!
Suniel Shetty puts in a sincere effort. Arshad Warsi and Emraan Hashmi, competent actors both, are sidelined completely. Sushma Reddy is cute, but doesnï¿½t have much to do.
On the whole, CHOCOLATE is body beautiful, minus soul. At the box-office, itï¿½s a film that may not appeal to the aam Indian junta. Disappointing!