Chocolate: Deep Dark Secrets
India 2005
Directed by Vivek Agnihotri.

Who is Kaiser Sosei? Er, no wait, this time it's "who is Murtaza Arzai?" But really, now, we're just quibbling on details. This is the kind of recycled garbage that writers about Indian cinema always point to to underscore their accusations of unoriginality and cheap imitation.

THE USUAL SUSPECTS was a cheap gimmick of a movie anyway, that survived on casting great actors like Gabriel Byrne and Kevin Spacey. CHOCOLATE tries to rely on good actors as well, but the star attraction, Anil Kapoor, overplays his role and generally performs poorly compared to his usual talents.

OK, so most mentions of CHOCOLATE: DEEP DARK SECRETS don't mention the post-colon subtitle, but it's right there on the title card of the film and so unbelievably stupid I had to use it. While suffering through this agonizingly long cinematic stinker, I couldn't help but recall that Forrest Gump was so right. Life IS like a box of chocolates, and you never know what you're going to get. This time I bit into a stale one that looked fancy on the outside but had absolutely nothing inside whatsoever.

Everything is rendered in slo-mo in this film, almost as if they forgot to shut the feature off on the camera when shooting. I think it's really a 90 minute movie, the extra 70 minutes are all just extra slo-mo padding. A good experiment would be to watch the film in x2 fast forward mode on your DVD player and see if it looks normal. You'd lose the sound that way, but trust me, I've heard the music here and it's no big loss.

The story, such that it is, concerns a group of NRIs (Non resident Indians) hanging out in London and playing in a band, while at the same time their leader, Rocker (Sunil Shetty), sells dope to support Sim, the hooker he loves, with the lifestyle she desires. The whole group get deeper and deeper into the underworld, and it turns out they are all criminal materminds when they aren't jamming. It escalates to a Mission Impossible style heist and a boat full of dead Saudis. Only Sim and PP (Irfan Khan) are caught by the police, and PP slowly, oh so very slowly, unravels his story to his high powered attorney, Krishna Pandit (Anil Kapoor) and the cute spunky news reporter (Sushama Reddy) who brought him the case.

What's real? What isn't? By the end, if you make it to the end, you're too tired and too bored to care anymore. There is only one good scene in the whole film, when the lawyer and reporter do a little snooping around at a nightclub. He sneaks a firearm past a metal detector in a clever way, while she succumbs to the music and and a fantasy orgy, in which she is groped by dozens of half-naked men and women in wild abandon. Which was slightly out of character, but very welcome nevertheless. Alas, these highlights represent about only ten minutes of the running time, and not even the most beautiful cast in the world can save a tired rip-off like CHOCOLATE.

And now, thanks to youtube, you can watch the good bit and skip the rest:

Rating: Not Recommended (Not Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on May 19, 2007.

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