Kites—the Review

55 Comments

The best moment of “Kites” is when..

Wait.

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.

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55 thoughts on “Kites—the Review

  1. Believe it or not …got this one liner from rediff comment space…
    Kite without tail and “KITES” without a tale will not soar.
    I found it quite befitting

  2. You are bang-on with the Thakur/ Chote Thakur comparison. In fact, the storyline is very similar to Rakesh Roshan’s old disaster, Koyla. All the typical characterizations were there, albeit in a NRI-Vegas-COOOOOL avatar. Actually, all they missed was an NRI-Johnny Lever incarnate!!
    I liked the movie btw, only because of Hrithik, one more passionate performance from him but without a script to match.
    Disagree on the past point with you, the Hrithik-Barbara jodi is not just good, I would say it is one of the best on-screen chemistry seen in recent times.

  3. it is exactly what Western critics, with just an air of condescension, “expect” from an exotic Indian movie
    Careful! Haven’t you heard (comments on previous post)? Saying such things marks you out as a “nationalist”, and therefore dangerous, by the Indian media. 🙂

    (LOL at the “bit parts on Telemundo” comment.)

  4. i quite enjoyed kites actually – better than some fluff coming out of b’wood these days- some good shots and images ..

  5. Tony Scott would have been wondering what he did wrong.

    Kites is pretty much a rehashed version of his 1990 movie, REVENGE, that had Kevin Costner, Madeleine Stowe, Antony Quinn. Not a great movie, but has some real steamy stuff between Costner and Stowe. REVENGE was trashed roundly by critics when it first came.

    Today Anurag Basu, tweaks it around, with not much difference, and the critics are drooling over it. Scott must sure be wondering “Sar a Sar Na Insaafi hai”.

    Also regarding Western critics praise, i guess just as our desi pals go overboard when it is related to anything West, yes you can see Rajeev Masand, going gush gush over 2012 and The Bounty Hunter, the Western media too goes the other way around, when it comes to India.

    I guess they don’t want to be seen as being ignorant of Indian sensibilities, racist, biased. Trust me i am sure Brett Ratner’s remixed version will be trashed by the same critics.

    If the Indian media suffers from slavishness, the Western media suffers from Political Correctness, and a desire to be seen as “More Liberal than Thou”.

  6. “In conclusion, “Kites” might very well go on to become everything the Roshans expected from it, a springboard for Hrithik into Los Angeles.”

    Oh, how delusional are the Roshans. After blowing all this money, all that Hrithik can possibly hope to get are bit sidey roles in films that require someone vaguely Arab/Iranian/Indian subcontinental. A lead role, even one that is that of an Indian character never, ever goes to a minority actor.

    Look at what happened to Prince of Persia – wtf is Jake Gyllenhaal doing playing a Persian prince and Gemma Aterton (an angrez, no less) playing an Indian princess?

    The only exceptions are the Hispanics. They used to get regularly passed over for roles that explicitly asked for Hispanic actors (witness Catherine Zeta Jones in Zorro) so they basically created a formidable lobby and now make sure that Hispanic roles go to Hispanic actors. Indians just don’t have that sort of clout in Hollywood.

    Hollywood is a very, very, very Anglo-Saxon dominated space. Even those from continental Europe find it difficult to break in – witness Penelope Cruz and Monica Belucci.

  7. In simple words ” Bollywood finally gets back at hollywood for slumdog millionaire” what ascents & wht story…. hats of to hrithik he do overacts …. nd kangna oh kangna …. kardi ki ishare???????

  8. They took three writers to come up with a ten line script.. quite unreal. the acting by the leads is the lone saving grace of this movie…

  9. I liked Kites because of Hrithik… he has done a great job. not sure if anyone noticed but Kangana got a “guest appearance” billing in the end credits.
    Also I personally found it better than housefull!!!

  10. Have not seen “kites” yet, but rotten tomatoes, which I usually rely for some good, incisive criticism, (bought by wiki now and all that) has given it an 86% tomatometer review aggregator score. This is astounding, and catapults it among the highest rated films on the site…
    the reviews are predictably cloying, gushing about the technical wizardry and the “madcap, edge-of-the-seat” thrills..
    this is sweet irony. Indin reviews have been uniformly bad, yet US reviews prise it, and it gets celebrated as yet another example of bollywood’s unique musical genre. Which it may not be, and which other films may be better examples of.
    sigh!

  11. You saw the movie – probably w/o knowing how it will be like. At the end you found it was not worth. So it was wasting of time – first time. Then you wrote a l-o-n-g blog to ‘review’ the movie. Again wastage of time – second time. Now we are all reviewing your reviews and, again, wasting OUR Time.
    Take it easy. Keep blogging. Excellent !!!

  12. awful movie – and on kolkata multiplexes it was running to almost emptey halls. speaks volumes. frankly spaeking i don’t think thsi will take Hritwik to Hollywoood!

  13. Thalassa – “A lead role never goes to a minority actor”?? Ever heard of
    Halle Barry? Denzel Washington? Antonio Banderas? Terrence Howard? No?
    It’s true that, so far, there aren’t Indian lead actors in Hollywood yet. Maybe Hrithik will be thre first? I haven’t seen many American or European actors starring in Hindi films, for that matter! I’m American and I love Hindi films and American films and European films and Asian films; there’s something good in all of them! You go, Hrithik!

  14. Hrithik looks all set for his Hollywood ascent now!

    “A shorter version of the film will be
    released next Friday, but Mr. Roshan requires viewing uncut: writhing
    on the dance floor or just gazing into space, the man was made to drive
    women crazy, one movie at a time.” — NY Times on Hrithik Roshan!

  15. Shar,

    Maybe because we Indians dont consider African American actors as “minorities”. By the way “I haven’t seen many American or European actors starring in Hindi films”—-out of curiosity, how many Hindi films have you seen? When we have British/American characters we have Caucasians playing these roles unlike for instance Hollywood which had Peter Sellers, with his face painted, playing an Indian. Now things are a bit better—you have a huge set of Naveen Andrews and Kal Penn to chose from for South-Asian characters.

    The problem in US popular media is that the presence of brown-skinned people is often totally overlooked in depictions of American life, almost as if we dont even exist. They said of ER that it was the only ER in the US without an Indian face. However things are definitely taking a turn for the better now. But then again as Swati pointed out, you still have old Jake G playing the Prince of Persia !

  16. On a not so good morning day this post of urs has made the moments bit light but i m disappointed sir……i didn’t feel like i was reading some GB post….it felt like i was going through some documentation of an even boring framework which i have been keeping in the basket for so long and have been avoiding it fearing great depression like situation……but still fans are fans….we see silver lightning even in dark gloomy clouds…..congrats….just keep the good work going…..

  17. may be i m too depressed today to enjoy anything…i know it is my fault tht i find the post not at all funny…..definately others will have different views from mine….wht to say…..

  18. I saw it yesterday…very slow movie…. there was a point in the movie where time had stopped….. …..

    Like GB said, if this does not get hrithik hollywood movies, nothing will.

  19. Couldn’t believe that the producers spent millions on a movie with a 2 line story ! But then maybe this was meant only as a launch pad for THE Roshan kid. Got to say though that Hrithik is a sight for sore eyes (Adonis is probably the right word!)

  20. KITES

    Damned Dumb Dykes

    Produced By: Rakesh Roshan

    Directed By: Anurag Basu

    Music By: Rajesh Roshan

    Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Barbara Mori, Kabir Bedi, Kangana Ranaut, Nick Brown

    Review By: Dr Usman Khawaja

    In 70s Shakti Samanta styles a masterly movie that alluded to the Indian allegory of kite being an illusion in time, which now is a genuine classic.

    In 2010 we are faced with a horror road romcom which goes all the way on the American freeways from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and than back into Mexico, in the premise of promoting love across borders and demolishing barricades across cross cultural biases, in doing so it manages to crash multitudes of vehicles in clumsy car chases courtesy of Hollywood thrillers like ‘Ronin ‘and ‘Bullet’ and simultaneously it crashes all sound barriers with its sycophantic and grotesque background score that grates as harshly as the Nevada sun.

    Mean while the non-existential plot involves a dance instructor called ‘J’ (Hrithik Roshan) who is a vibrant, extremely vivacious Indian living as a streetwise con man in Las Vegas, who deals in everything from gyrating on dance floors in obsequiously vulgar dance pieces styled from the best of Hema Malini and Vyjantimala ‘snake dances, as he has run out of all his previous tricks to plagiarise Govinda and Mithun Chakraborty.

    He is stalked by a ravenous nymphomaniac, played by the lady Kangna who here is cast as the vamp, while her brother is the villain and their dad (Kabir Bedi) is the corny mafia chief who runs the state of Nevada.

    Meanwhile a Mexican illegal immigrant is smuggled in and as she is the most beautiful woman to tread the casinos in Vegas, ever since Elizabeth Taylor, so everyone from Roshan to the brother of the vamp are enamoured of her.

    Of course Mori falls for Hrithik and as this is discovered, they are marked for deletion, the two make an escape struck by the lightning bolt of love, and the whole of American-Mexican mafia chases the two lucky lovers who obviously escape every weapon from a handgun to a bazooka, while everybody else in sight is blasted into smithereens, very similar to our senses including the audio-visual and the sixth sense.

    I will suffice to say that every ‘genre’ is stolen, rigged and tried by the director to make the kite fly but it does not even budge as the strings are so entangled in banal stereotypes and plagiarised from every classic Bollywood and Hollywood has made from ‘Buster Keaton’ to ‘James Cameron ‘.

    Anurag Basu has two distinctly varied and acclaimed movies in his kit, namely
    Murder and Metro and why he took this kitchen sink on board is a paradox as the storyline is a slander and the casting even worst as Hrithik Roshan can neither act nor dance,which is surprising, since the Dhoom 2 title dance was much better executed by the choreographer.

    Mori and Roshan have atrocious accents and they mouth the most vile dialogues written in recent times, which ranges from Spanish to English to Hindi to Urdu, as the essential Muslim Samaritan cops up in the middle of Mexico to help the divine lovers, he is called Jamal Bhai and is quickly despatched with the obligatory holy Muslim dialogues.

    Mori is neither photogenic nor an actress and is a total loss, while Kangana is totally wasted in a charade darting dragon eyes and dreadful dialogues.

    The rest of the cast is who is who, with Kabir Bedi as the acrimonious mafia baron, who seems to be rather fed up of fathering two feckless ferociously evil kids, while all the white Americans are there to be shot at in a turkey shoot.

    I am amazed that the cinematographer was actually taking this seriously, while shooting this horrendous mess with a finger in every pot.

    But than if you are trying to make a dyke into a kite than you cannot be blamed for being dumb and the only denizen here is Las Vegas as everyone else is an alien and that explains the disaster.

    As to how and why they all got there you do not want to go there but the director forces you into the most irritable and lamentable flashbacks to that fracas, which almost forces you into a sonorous Mexican siesta and that is the only quality of this ground breaking epic love story that transcends all your senses and still keeps from ascending an inch into the sky as a Kite.

    Rating: 1/10

  21. @rajesh
    Its not just Hrithik’s ears that are big. If you see the English version of the movie, you will see what I mean.

    @Ratnakar
    This movie “Kites” would have received rave reviews from the Saudi-secular Indian media and D-company’s valuable patronage too had the movie been a useful recruiting tool for Hizbul Mujahideen. Too bad the Roshans didn’t pick the right story line or D-company’s favorite actors !

    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/hizbul-bets-on-my-name-is-khan/592887/0

  22. Well looks like Kites has become a PHATI PATANG in the US too.

    From Rediff.

    “Kites certainly did not soar last weekend in North America — what the heck, according to the actual figures released on Monday evening, it did not even gross $1 million even though it was the 10th highest grossing film in the continent.

    Now the speculation has started whether Hrithik Roshan’s underperforming film will good business in the mainstream theatres as a 90 minute version of the 130-minute long film Kites: The Remix retooled by the popular Hollywood film-maker Brett Ratner opens in a few dozen theatres this Friday. ”

    Hmm Hrithik aap to Funda de reha the, Biryani aur Pasta ke baare. Ok we Indians, like Biryani, but what happened to your PASTA, did the Americans find it bland and tasteless.

  23. Disgusting movie, both hrittik mori sucks total wastage of money in fact i was forced to go bcoz of my boyfrd. @greatbong u r right he actully nevr been a “real dancer” as u said his UNREAL dancing skilled so far celvrly covrd by visual effects, same dance same movemnts looks funny now, in stage shows i saw him wth Aishwrya jst culd dance properly neider he can act. to b honest his only thing boosted ureal dancing skills only comes B grade compared to dance india dance constnts.
    I seen all stars in stage in USA, to be honest not only in stardom of looks Sharuk is the best dancer jst he nvr says dat. even Shahid is better.

    @Pratap he doesnt only hs big ears but i think he has most imperfct looks, how few mags calls with one of the handsome its funny, ugly big nose, mole in the eyes, 11 fingers, moles in cheek nothing is prfect even annoying to see Roshan spreading false news being the movie a hit, box office reports abroad and India suggestin after 3 idiots and MINK Two biggst hits of industry it is going to be biggest flop in history and they calls it a hit funny when they will learn people arnt fool

  24. @rajesh ha ha ears are big how can people say he is goodlooking think most ugly looking actor around now his so called dancing sucks cnt tolerate, papa rakesh has to think really hard now how he can survive false spreading news wont help

  25. The movie is running empty houses in Delhi also, n Roshans claiming like its the biggest hit ever made ha, reminds of BLIND’S PARADISE. Bakwaas dancing, bakwaas acting, fake car collapse and no story. At time made me yawn and other times noise in the movie almost takes ur heart out. Never seen such so much hyped for such pathetic movie in life. Truely a Phaati pataang

    MTV has got best tag line saying “Kites have been made to raise hritik’s sinking popularity” but funny hritik ne kites ko hi le duba ha ha, everybody seems tired of this movie, if u r insomiac jst go watch d movie will make u sleep. Even SInger KK seems to tired and yawing, after singing gr8 songs seems he has been forced to go sing like sing “zindaagi do paaal ki and then ….inteeeeeeeezaaaaaaaaaaaaaar ………….. and yaaaaaaawn yaaaaaaawn yaaaaaaaaawn and it continues..” aaah jsut aawful.

  26. ho! ho! Zindagi ek pal ki though i didnt seen d movie i heard when my brothr wnt to c it an aunty cm wid hr family for some good time has bitterly said watching hiritk song aabhe pittey muuch aur kitna intezaar karaage paisa aaupas kar aacha tha koi restrunt ja kar khaana khaa aate ish paisa ka and soon sitting besides her family and people laughted and that he said only moment he enjoyed in watching movie ha

  27. Ho ho wat adjctv u guys r wrting. Seems his rapidly sinking popularity has hit all time low, but all dat range he had he used that, think he approach is not proper he looks more ugly with that beard, to be honest with that beard and hair hritik looks like a mad cap, he doesnt look good in clean shave eidr still looks bttr with frnch-cut beard.

    With this beard and hairstyle He looks like a mad cap roaming near roadside Gutter with dirty dress, carrying a “LOTA” not to say for what reason ha: ha:. Think evn Akki wd hv done better with role, ovrall headache movie.

  28. @akkifan, which one u r finding like mad cap, talking abut this pic: http://topnews.in/light/files/Hrithik-Roshan_0.jpg or the Reliance one that’s bcause “PEOPLE WITH CURLY HAIR WILL GROW MORE CURLY HAIR”

    but dats 2 mch atlst give relief to d guy, i am not a hritikh roshan fan but ur Akki doesnt look good either. People who r too much hairy or hav curly hair cant hv goodlooking beard do u knw dat. People who grow curly hair, will also grow beard with that curl or in scattrd mannr which looks like a crazy chap. On d contrary people who grow striaght or silky hair will grow straight beard according to the hair type with thy have and people with more striaght and silk hair with grow more thinner or straight goodlooking beard of propr shape dats why people with the curl doesnt look good with long beard, and person with straight hair looks stunning evn wid long beard, its not his fault its in the gene so u shudnt insult or make fun of him that way. You dont like him dats diffrnt bt sud hv usd bttr language

    @akkifan, plss Read the article for ur knowledge :
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100206104648AAYDtny

  29. @Kishori: No. Neha and Rupali are girls who really know that Hrithik Roshan is hopeless as an actor. Not because they’re jealous boys. But because they’re sensible girls, like me.

    And GB, great post! But maybe it’s because I hold the same views about KITES as well, ha. I also read your book “May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss” and I liked it a lot! Made me laugh quite a lot 🙂 Thanks!

  30. It was bad in a strange way . I mean if you see frame by frame, things were not terrible .But the film indeed was. In the end when he eases himself of the agony, the entire audience took a sigh of relief 😀

  31. Greatbong is right, this distaster movie shows only hollywd style movie making or maximu prints with media’s fake coverge of hritik hollywood avatr wnt mkes film hit it jst collaspd in the maternty ward. Ofcourse, there will fan following for certain stars, difference is that some has 200 followrs some hs 200000. You can tell any actor u as biggst str, sexiest star it doesnt mattr. If someone is really biggest str or great looks he will draw crowd or will deliver max hits, and if he is not either biggest star or popular even u call a star the biggest star or most popular or whatever adjective u give it’s as much true as calling a TUKTUK as Merceds Benz.

    Which Hritik roshn’s case jst fits, collapse of his films and his sinking popularity shows that it’s like is as much true calling a TUKTUK a Merceds Benz, his ever decreasin fans also knw dat btter.

    Media is especially to blame for, that they can create anything like creates imaginary supporters writing in favour of certain actor but all that matters is “Jo dikta hai woh bikta hai”, and i honestly hritikh neider is a great looker nor an great actor, even his “UNREAL” brk dancing now looks funnier even more which of B grade compared to Dance India Dance. And the collapsing of movie which has maximum coverage in abroad showed only by extending prints wont help to run in oversease.

    Just see the bussiness report from the real film business GURU Taran Adarsh, twitter
    http://www.twitter.com/taran_adarsh

  32. Very precise review, with insightful comments. And yes, Barbara Mori may not be the hottest Mexican to grace the Bollywood arena, but she’s really very very pretty, and has a grace that enhances her beauty! Other than that, Kites really had nothing to please the Indian audience. But for Ms. Mori, it would’ve been a complete waste of my money!!

  33. Forget Barbara or Barbarian Mori in a true sense, she is an out and out snob, right from begining she was showing snobbishness. In evry interview she was saying she didnot like Hrithik Roshan nor wanted to act with him.

    When, recnt interview after the film’s release as it didnot do well she said saw him first in Jodha Akbar, she said that 3 hour of watching d movie was her most boring 3 hours in her life. ( Earlier interview prior to film’s release she said she liked movie, huh how fake person). Later after lot of convincing by others she agreed to work with him. Aaah!! if u dnt disliked him so much why than she chose 2 work, huh Money !! now with this how can one expct chemistry between the two lead actors in a movie.

    Well Hrithik isnt the most charming/attractive actor around Alright, but she is no Cinderella. She was saying she knew India a place of lots of indispline, choas and dirty in ordr to show as she is from some superior planet. I hv seen same kind of treatmnt actually these Maxican’s get when they arrive US, they hv been trmed as dirty, Ugly Maxican huuh. To be honest there are much more pretty Maxican actresses than that big mouth lady

  34. Ha, Ha, @ujjal think u really got upset with her. But hey her whishlist only got higher and bigger, She isnt willing to giveup bollywood so easily. She really got bigger plans now. With just one go now she has set her eyes on none other than the King of Bollywood SRK. She wants to do movie with SRK. No offenses aftr all Kaawab dekhney koi buri baat nehi ha!!

  35. Aaaarrey yeea-saab bol ke keya faaidaa aab koi tou mera paisa laautaooooooooo pura paisa gaaya pani maai

  36. There was no point in this review where i could disagree with you! Well, let me congratulate on that first before i move ahead!

    I think this is surely one movie, apart from MNIK, that could be released for western audiences, and those are the only ones that they have been made for!

    And really, we allow producers to recover their money, if they have spent enough of it on marketing, so we should really not be complaining!

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