The best moment of “Kites” is when..
There are no best moments in “Kites”.
The only few times it came close to being entertaining is when Kabir Bedi as the grossly over-the-top, Las Vegas’s most badass casino owner Sponge”Bob” Squarepants, chews scenery like a gopher nibbling at nuts and his son, played by some Australian guy called Nick Brown, channels the Bob Christo accent with chiller uber-evil lines like “Sab se pahele kya dekha? Tewoo hawt legs..road to heaven” .
But even there they are no match for their original inspirations, the enraged Thakur played by Amrish Puri with his eyes wound up like saucers thundering “Gande naali ke keere” , “Uske yeh jurrat” and of course “Unke haddi pasli ek kar do”, and the wastrel son, gun-brandishing, white-suited, shirt-open, chest-hair and golden-chain showing, heroine-slapping and shooting-everyone-in-sight Shakti Kapoor (Chote Thakur) who could also do a mean faux-American accent and deliver “yeh tangein to jannat ke raaste hai aooooo” with far greater menace.
The rest of “Kites” is just hot air, the kind that builds up in your stomach after a big bean burrito.
The story of two gold-digging lovers, on the run from bad men they have crossed, is straight out of the moldy pages of a M&B bodice-ripper. Cinematic sequences have been collaged in from diverse sources such as Bonnie and Clyde, Thelma and Louise, Road to Perdition and even the director’s own “Gangster”, stock situations (like when characters explain everything before dying) and formulaic characters like the psycho lover (Kangana Ranaut has a no-bid Halliburton style monopoly over such characters nowadays) and even a Dipak Tijori type friend are recycled from countless Bollywood formula blockbusters. Yes there are a lot of blown-up cars and plenty of over-lit shots, which I presume is cool, but if camera flourishes and expensive destruction were the currencies of movie greatness then “Acid Factory” would be “Rashomon”.
While tepid as a movie, Kites is no doubt a fascinating product. Helmed by Rakesh Roshan, this is a two-hour audition-tape for Hrithik Roshan to become a cross-over film hero in Hollywood. The story and script’s raison d’etre is to enable Roshan junior to exhibit his exquisitely chiseled torso, his unreal dancing skills, his ability to do action and emotion and most importantly his Adonis-like huliya and judged by that parameter, director Anurag Basu definitely earns his pay by making every frame Hrithik-alicous (he is literally in every frame).
The fact that “Kites” is kitschy re-cycled Bollywood is, in many ways, one of its strengths—it is exactly what Western critics, with just an air of condescension, “expect” from an exotic Indian movie. Yet with a theme of illegal immigration and a Mexican protagonist who speaks authentically in Spanish, it also strikes a note of familiarity and relevance.
In that respect, “Kites” is perfectly in the sweet spot of an American critic’s aesthetic comfort zone. As an added bonus, its production qualities are very much international standard and that is a pleasant surprise for many of them who still associate Bollywood with the look and feel of the 80s and 90s. This perception of improved quality is sure to get Kites a lot of positive “Wow Bollywood has come a long way” kind of press attention. Add to it, the fact that they have roped in Brett Ratner of X-Men fame for a remixed Western-audience-friendly version is yet another thumbs up for the product designers for Roshan as it gets him even greater column space in Hollywood trade mags.
If this does not get Hrithik calls from Hollywood agents, nothing will.
For the Indian side of the coin what is expected to bring in the droves is the Bara-bari (Bengali for “too much”) Barbara Mori-Roshan chemistry, which has gotten endless play in gossip pages over the past year, not that I would ever think of that as a clever marketing ploy. Personally I was not blown away by Barabara Mori, either in terms of her acting or in terms of her looks (there are far hotter women playing bit parts on the Spanish television channel Telemundo) or for that matter of fact her screen chemistry with Roshan, but I am pretty sure I am in the minority on this one.
In conclusion, “Kites” might very well go on to become everything the Roshans expected from it, a springboard for Hrithik into Los Angeles.
But for me, as a viewer who has no stock in the fortunes of the Roshans, it is as much fun as munching on a soggy and stale chimichanga.