Producer: Rakesh Roshan
Director: Anurag Basu
Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Barbara Mori, Kangana Ranaut, Luce Rains, Kabir Bedi
Music: Rajesh Roshan
Lyrics: Nasir Faraaz and Asif Ali Beg
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Approximate Running Time: 2 hrs 30 min
Film Released on: 20 May 2010
“Quiero volar Con ustedes esta noche déjame gozar este momento”
“Kites in the sky, soaring together Lover’s Forever Forever is a lie…”
On Sunday May 16th 2010, the world premiere of Kites was held at a gala red carpet function at the AMC Theater in Times Square, New York City. Hrithik Roshan, Barbara Mori, Anurag Basu, Rakesh Roshan and Rajesh Roshan walked down the red carpet to much fanfare and adoration (with Hrithik getting the loudest applause). Once inside the theater, each one was introduced and walked to the front of the auditorium to introduce the film. Barbara Mori hoped that everyone would like the film. Rakesh Roshan proclaimed it an experiment that he hoped would succeed and asked for the audience’s blessings. Hrithik Roshan conveyed that he had poured his all into the two years that it has taken to get this film completed and out for the world to see.
The hype is certainly there, but the question remains, will “Kites” which is a dramatic departure from the usual Roshan FilmKraft Bollywood masala film, live up to audience’s expectations? Adding to expectations is the fact that this is Hrithik’s first appearance on the silver screen in two years.
For Hrithik and Rakesh Roshan, “Kites” is an interesting gamble as it’s a film that features a Mexican lead actress, is filmed with a lot of English and Spanish dialogue, is a FilmKraft production that has a director known for thinking outside the masala box (Anurag Basu), has a unique English version called, “Kites – The Remix” (directed by “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner who cut the film down to ninety minutes and added a more westernized soundtrack), and is set/filmed entirely in/around Las Vegas and the Santa Fe area.
So on that Sunday evening, the lights dimmed, and the film’s first reel started playing…as the audience went into a cinematic trance….
“Holds the twine in his hands What has destiny planned Will the heart understand Kites in the sky Soaring together lovers forever Forever is a lie..”
The lyrics, “Lovers forever…. forever is a lie”, is a very telling statement about a film like “Kites” that is part romantic film, part chase/revenge film, and part mystery film. Director Anurag Basu’s screenplay (also co-written by Robin Bhatt, Akarsh Khanna, and Rakesh Roshan) is fairly straightforward and avoids the typical Bollywood masala situations. You won’t find clichéd storytelling (though the overall plot of the film is one that has been seen before in various Hollywood and Bollywood films in terms of lovers on the run), the screenplay’s strength is in how the characters J (Hrithik Roshan) and Linda/Natasha (Barbara Mori) are brought together in a clever and interesting way. From there it provides sufficient twists ‘n’ turns on the journey of these two lovers who come from totally different places. J is the scam artist who always misses the get rich quick boat due to bad luck, and Natasha is desperately trying to make some easy money in order to support her poor family back in Mexico. How these two meet, and are torn apart forms the crux of the film. The ending, which I won’t give away here, is one that is inevitable and a break from the Bollywood norm.
The dialogues deserve special mention, as it is always kept natural and does not at any point seem overly dramatic. The balancing between Hindi, English and Spanish could have been a disaster, but is handled well. It’s a credit to the screenplay that the love between Hrithik and Barbara is set up in a few very pivotal scenes that rely on actions other than dialogues to convey emotions of a burgeoning love (simmering glances, shadows against the wall). Humor comes out in the exchanges between the two star crossed lovers and it never seems forced.
Cinematography by Ayananka Bose is beautifully creative. The depravity of Las Vegas and scenic wonder of Santa Fe is captured perfectly by his lens. Of particular beauty are the scenes that take place in the rain, which holds a symbolic theme throughout the film and appears at critical points during the movie.
The stunts in the film are high caliber and also are choreographed realistically. You won’t find any super kung fu kicks or mind bogglingly gravity defying stunts. Rather, you’ll find that the action blends in organically with the story, and emphasizes the inherent threat of death for J (Hrithik) and Natasha (Barbara).
“Este amor Me está matando Lo siento cómo no tocarlo”
Let’s be honest here, the film would not have worked had the actress not been able to interact naturally with Hrithik Roshan in the film. This could easily have degenerated into the kind of cheesy campfest that we have seen when non-Indian actors appear in Bollywood movies looking like fish out of water, but thankfully that never happens here. Barbara Mori not only emotes a charismatic performance, but also is able to hold her own against Hrithik’s formidable acting assault. All this is accomplished with her speaking mainly in Spanish throughout the film. Indian actresses should take note from Mori’s very strong and adept performance, as she shows more fire (pun intended) than most of them do in their typical portrayals.
As for Hrithik, what can one say that hasn’t been said already? If there is any other actor that rivals the kind of excitement that Amir Khan generates, then that is Hrithik Roshan. He brings a fragile humanity to his character of J. He’s no superman, or even a great guy. In fact he is simply after what we all dream about…money. Hrithik portrays his character as the emotionally fragile everyman caught up in a love that is destined to be doomed. For those that are interested there is a dance scene set to the song, “Fire” at the beginning of the film where he brings down the house. After all what would a Hrithik film be like if he didn’t showcase his killer dance moves? This scene is probably the most Bollywood stylized scene in the film, and thankfully appears towards the beginning so that it doesn’t disrupt the narrative flow later on.
Luckily the actors around them ably support the lead pair. Kabir Bedi is sinisterly evil as the casino owner whose daughter Gina (Kangana Ranaut in a wisp of a role that results in a scant few minutes of screen time) and crazed son Tony (Nicholas Brown in a revenge fueled performance that never goes over the top, and keeps the character dangerously believable throughout the film) are the kind of people that shouldn’t be messed with. Anand Tiwari as J’s best friend Robin has an excellent bait and switch scene that totally surprises the viewer. Finally Yuri Suri as Jamaal shines in a few scenes that convey the humanity between strangers.
Rajesh Roshan’s music is kept mostly in the background and the tracks “Dil Kyun Yeh Mera” and “Tum Bhi Ho Wahi” are potent in conveying emotions at crucial moments during the film. There is no awkward break into song and dance (thankfully) that would destroy the emotional impact of a film that travels along a dark emotional path like “Kites” does.
“Kites in the sky Lovers Forever… Forever is a lie..”
All in all “Kites” is a film that shows the audience the clash between destiny and the fact that love simply does not always conquer all, especially forbidden love. Anurag Basu presents the audience with a film that is stylishly directed amidst a cacophony of emotion. Hrithik and Barbara’s chemistry creates cinematic magic within each frame and you will truly believe that they are in love. The screenplay provides just the right amount of surprises to keep the story fresh. The actors are each showcased in the right manner. The lack of the typical overly dramatic overdrawn scenes of emotion that are the staple of the usual Bollywood fare is a welcome change from the norm.
The only downside to the film is the slightly predictable ending that might turn off Bollywood fans who are used to seeing the words happily ever after riding into the sunset. Yet, overall, Basu and the Roshan’s have provided us with an honest, intriguing and entertaining ride that is worth opening your mind to.
The danger with a film like this is that in an effort to balance between Bollywood and Hollywood, it might leave fans of each unsatisfied. “Kites” is certainly an interesting and commendable “experiment” (as Rakesh Roshan describes it) worth watching. Directed with style and acted with panache, it’s the kind of film that will make your pulse race at all the right moments and for all the right reasons. Give it a chance…you won’t be disappointed as long as you don’t expect an instant Bollywood dishum dishum classic. Rather ”Kites” works best on a low key personal level….