Excerpt: Remember the days when you would climb up on to the rooftop with all the enthusiasm in the world for a good day of kite flying – only to realise that the wind is not sufficient for it to happen?
Kites, for all the sincere enthusiasm of the makers – who quite clearly wish to taste international acceptance – and the opulent execution of their dream, is a film that rarely flies high. And when it does, it goes nowhere in particular.
In the end, like many – if not most – of his recent home productions, Rakesh Roshan’s Anurag Basu directed Kites comes across as yet another vanity vehicle for the hopelessly good looking and accomplished star-actor, Hrithik Roshan.
Distinctly disappointing. And yet, for many factors put together, just about a little less than 2.5 stars.
Review: “An Indian movie typically has five different genres going on at the same time. There’s suicide and dancing and car chases and romance – it changes from moment to moment. What they were going for was an international type film, so I took it to an international level. I focused on telling the story as simply as possibly and I took out stuff that was maybe clichéd”, said Brett Ratner – producer and director of the ‘Rush Hour’ movies – when asked about his task of preparing the English version of Kites (named Kites Remix).
Putting aside any insinuation of a condescending view on Hindi cinema or indeed the final shape of ‘Kites Remix’, one must admit that Brett indeed nailed the point of scattered orientation of Kites. It tries everything – from romance to comedy; from western to thriller; and indeed, from cross-culture to plain ol’ cinema of the 70s. Alas, it fails – in varying degrees – in almost all of them.
In fact, after a while, it becomes nearly impossible to arrive at the real target audience of the film! Yes; while on one hand it is too been-there-tried-that type of film for cinema connoisseurs (of any language), on the other, it is just too English and Spanish for Indian audiences. It would be interesting to see which language has more space in the Hindi version of the film – for Hindi is certainly not the leading language of it! (Largely English and Spanish dialogues, with English subtitles for small cities and towns of India, anyone?)
And yet, language is barely the problem with the film. The problem is that inspite of that constant talking in the two global languages, the film barely manages to say anything.
J. (Hrithik Roshan) is a dance teacher in Las Vegas, who is also in the business of marrying illegal immigrants in order for them to get green cards. While being at his dance class, a rich casino heiress Gina (Kangana Ranaut) falls for her dance instructor. When J. comes to know of the background of Gina, the lust for green paper makes him play along the romance and marriage game with Gina. But when Gina brings him home to meet the family, J. meets Natasha (Barbara Mori) and discovers a piece of his past. And from thereon, the film travels back and forth time and locations – just as J. and Natasha find love in each other and elope to Mexico to start their live afresh.
Director Anurag Basu, who had made a delightful film about intricate human relations (Life In a Metro), fails to manage his characters and their interaction with the surroundings in Kites. So, while a simple dance-teacher-cum-marriage-expert makes the situation of a bank look almost comical by his responses, the heir of ‘the biggest casino of Las Vegas’ moves around the country with guns to kill people – almost as if USA were a banana republic. Just as while super-rich Kangana looks as if she is still playing the part of a mentally unstable girl in skimpy clothes (watch her in the scene where all that seemed to matter was her trying to tell the world that she has got ample and attractive thighs!) in any of her Bhatt camp movies, almost all other characters fail to exist beyond the dialogues that they mouth.
In a film that is clearly designed to pitchfork Hrithik into international market via his international good looks and versatility, every single character seems to suffer from shallow characterisation. And to add to it, while many are constricted by single mood, single expression ‘demand of the script’, others are made to jump from romance to action to comedy at the drop of a hat.
Kites stands for a wasteful hash of an ‘attractive idea’ by the script and direction department.
It brings us (again) to the acting in the film. While Barbara Mori does manage to hold herself and the scenario together, it would have to be said that her being a Mexican probably played a bigger role in her getting the role than any extraordinary acting talent. She does well. Just as well as she is allowed to.
Kangana Ranaut and Kabir Bedi (as the Casino King, Kangana’s dad & Hrithik’s father-in-law) play out themselves for the millionth time. Nick Brown as Tony (Bedi’s son) is one person who makes this film a Hindi film of the 80s, with his spoilt, loud, criminal act.
But it was never meant to be about any of them anyone. Surprisingly though, in a film that is designed to make him an international star, Hrithik – while being his consummately competent self – fails to come up with a performance that would be remembered forever. At many places, he plays himself. At others, he jumps the mood abruptly. There is no fault in his acting here. He does well. But he could have done just the same in a lesser film too.
Such ambiguous coordinates by the writer and the director manages to take a casualty of editing (by Avik Ali) at many times. Though, there were many in the audience who could be heard saying “Oh come on guys, let’s get over it all now” in the second half, the editor has fared better than the writers. There are some moments where one feels the editor saved the film from dragging. But there are also places, where a crisper editing could’ve made a difference. That Brett Ratner has actually chopped off 40 minutes out of a 2 hr 5 min long film, tells us actually the scope for a crisper editing.
Giving company in keeping all the pieces together is the music of the film. However, quite like the other faculties, while the original soundtrack by Rajesh Roshan does not rise beyond the two hit songs (“Dil kyun yeh mera” and “zindagi”), the background score by Salim-Suleiman is converted into a Khichdi of some loud thumping ( a la RGV film), some predictable mood symphonies and even “Once Upon A Time in Mexico” type of Spanish guitar led score. While neither stand out as a sore thumb, it is equally true that neither would be remembered beyond this weekend either. Sad.
Amidst all the loose blocks, however, two departments that can stand with heads held high are cinematography (by Ayananka Bose) and production by Rakesh Roshan. One fails to recollect when had one last seen such exotic locales of USA and Mexico in a Hindi film. From deserts to dazzling nights of Las Vegas, Kites offers some of the most sumptuous visuals of recent times. The film, quite like its lead actors, is fabulously ‘good looking’. What clinches the deal is that never does it seem that the camera is trying too hard to get the right frame.
Alas, great cinematography, enviable production values and scorching hot lead couple do not add up enough to make the kite soar.
Verdict: If money, time and quality are issues for you, you might want to wait for Rajneeti to arrive the next week. If body beautiful is all that makes you get going, you might watch this one. Overall, Kites falls way short of the humongous expectations that it has managed to evoke.