Star cast: Hrithik Roshan, Barbara Mori, Kangana Ranaut, Nicholas Brown, Kabir Bedi.
Plot: Hrithik Roshan, an Indian living in Las Vegas, wants to become rich by hook or by crook. Barbara Mori, a Mexican in Las Vegas, is also very money-minded. Sparks fly when the two meet. Actually, Hrithik has decided to marry Kangana for her riches while Barbara is engaged to be married to Kangana’s brother, Tony, again for his money. Hrithik and Barbara elope. Hot on their trail is Tony. To make matters worse, Barbara understands only Spanish while Hrithik can’t speak anything but Hindi and English.
What’s Good: Hrithik Roshan’s acting and looks, his superlative dance, cinematography, foreign locations, the look of the film.
What’s Bad: The screenplay, the slow pace of the film, lack of emotions, comedy, romance. And yes, the climax – it is unintentionally hilarious!
Verdict: Kites will not be able to fly high. Rather, people will soon be heard saying: “Kites bites the dust.”
Loo break: Plenty because the chase and action sequences get too repetitive.
Filmkraft Productions (India) Pvt. Ltd.’s Kites (UA) is a love story of an Indian boy in Las Vegas with a Mexican girl. Jay (Hrithik Roshan) is a dance instructor who doubles up as a willing husband to marry girls looking to get a green card in America. He tries his luck in the casinos as he wants to be a rich man by hook or by crook. Linda (Barbara Mori) is a poor Mexican girl who, in her desperation for a green card, gets married to Jay, of course, for the fee he charges.
Jay’s student, Gina (Kangana Ranaut), is obsessed with him and tells him, she loves him. He spurns her overtures but soon realises, she is a multi-millionaire, the daughter of Bob (Kabir Bedi), who owns a huge casino in Las Vegas and has a bungalow the size of a palace. Since Jay has dreams of becoming rich, he hooks on to Gina, much to her and her family’s delight. He is invited by Bob to attend the engagement ceremony of Gina’s brother, Tony (Nicholas Brown). To his surprise, the girl Tony is to get engaged to is Linda but she now has a new name, Natasha. Sparks fly between Jay and Natasha and both are physically as well as mentally attracted to one another.
Circumstances force Jay and Natasha to elope, leaving Tony and Gina hurt, humiliated and frustrated. Jay and Natasha’s love blossoms while they are on the run from the clutches of Tony and his family. The love story has an additional problem area, besides the above. While Jay speaks and understands only Hindi and English, Natasha can speak and comprehend only Spanish and a few words of English. In other words, the two love birds can’t even express their feelings to one another.
The story (Rakesh Roshan) is ordinary but it has two good angles – one, that the partners of a brother-sister duo fall in love with each other and elope, and secondly, the lovers do not have a common language to converse in. However, the screenplay, written by Anurag Basu, Robin Bhatt and Akarsh Khurana, is so poor that the drama just doesn’t move ahead. However, even before one comes to the flaws in the screenplay, one must mention that probably the biggest drawback of the film is that 90% of it is in English and Spanish with very little Hindi thrown in. The writers have made Jay speak mostly in English although he knows Hindi too. As for Natasha, she speaks fluent Spanish and broken English. Although the Spanish dialogues are subtitled in Hindi in some prints and in English in some prints, the Indian audience is not used to reading subtitles while watching a film. Therefore, a good chunk of the audience will get irritated at the liberal use of Spanish dialogues and will simply not understand what’s going on. In that sense, they will not be able to enjoy the romance developing between Jay and Natasha. As for Jay’s English dialogues, they are simply not subtitled. The non-English-speaking audience will feel cheated about this too as they won’t have subtitles to refer to. In short, making Kites as an English-Spanish film but selling/ promoting it as a predominantly Hindi film with a bit of Spanish thrown in will be the film’s biggest undoing. Frankly, there was no need to show Jay speaking in English; he should rather have mouthed his dialogues in Hindi, at least for the audience in India. The writers and director Anurag Basu have committed a blunder of epic proportions by making an English-Spanish film rather than a Hindi-Spanish one.
Now, coming to the defects in the screenplay. There is no justification for the physical attraction between Jay and Natasha and even that would’ve been okay had the two not been the main protagonists. Jay is shown as a con man and Natasha, as a con woman because both plan to get married for the sake of money. The writers may have thought that their sacrifice of money for true love would make them heroes but well, they sacrifice what was never theirs in the first place and so where’s the question of a sacrifice involved? Their attraction towards each other looks more lusty than pure, again something which the Indian audiences will not approve of. It is for this very reason that Jay saving Natasha from her violent fiancé (Tony) doesn’t seem heroic enough to eli-cit applause from the audience. For, at the back of the audience’s minds is the fact that in any case, Jay was angling to elope with Natasha, and Tony’s violent behaviour may only have accelerated the happenings.
Actually, there is nothing very heroic about Jay’s character otherwise too because of these two reasons – that he is a con man, and that he was lusting for someone else’s fiancée. The second point may seem to be diluted by the fact that Jay was married to Linda alias Natasha and that that is a strong point in his favour, but then so was he to ten other girls. Also, he was married to Linda alias Natasha for money, not because he loved her.
Another weakness of the script is that the viewer does not get involved in the drama enough to root for the lovers to succeed in their mission. In a love story, if the audience does not feel inclined to mentally support two lovers in distress, it is not a very happy situation. There is romance in the film but its impact is greatly diluted because the two love birds don’t understand each other’s language. Comedy is conspicuous by its absence. Except for a couple of jokes which bring a smile to the face, there’s precious little to entertain the audience or lighten the spirits. Even the emotional quotient is low as one doesn’t feel the pain of the lovers. The Hindi film audience loves to applaud powerful dialogues in the film but they are robbed of even this joy because the dialogues are in languages which they are not comfortable with. In other words, with the film lacking in romance, comedy, emotions and weighty dialogues, there is little about the drama for the viewers to enjoy.
The first half is very slow-moving but it at least has the two novel angles – a brother and a sister let down by their respective partners when they (partners) fall for each other, and two lovers unable to understand each other’s language of communication. The scenes in which Jay and Natasha exchange glances and speak with their eyes are sensitively handled and entertaining too.
The post-interval portion may be relatively more pacy but it seems long and boring because it is repetitive. Except for chases and action, there isn’t much happening in the second half. In that sense, the drama fails to really move forward after a point. Yet another confusing part is that the film oscillates between flashbacks and the present times, confusing the public which, in any case, is already confused by the non-Hindi dialogues. The climax may be a bit touching but its last part in which Jay and Natasha ‘meet’ underwater is unintentionally hilarious and that shot needs to be chopped off as soon as possible for the film’s own good.
On the plus side is the look of the film. It has been shot on some fresh and breathtaking foreign locations, the best of which is the one in which there are water fountains in the background. Some chase sequences and stunts are also wonderfully composed. The dance competition in the beginning is simply mind-blowing and had the film been good, it (dance competition) could’ve been a repeat-value item to bring in the public back to the cinemas for repeat viewing. For the front-benchers, there are ample sex, skin show and kissing scenes in the film.
HrithikRoshan looks like a million bucks and a truly international star. He acts very ably but does go a bit overboard in some scenes. His dance, of course, is supremely brilliant. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that one can’t imagine any other Bollywood actor dancing the way Hrithik has. Barbara Mori looks older than Hrithik and although she is not very beautiful, she has a charm of her own. Her acting is quite nice. She has exposed her curves uninhibitedly. Kangana Ranaut is very good in her minuscule role and in the dance with Hrithik. Nicholas Brown does a fine job. Kabir Bedi is alright in a role which isn’t too substantive. Yuri Suri leaves a mark in the role of Jamaal.
Anurag Basu, known for his sensitive scripting and narrative sense, disappoints as writer and director. Although his shot compositions and takings are superb, he has not been able to make a film with a soul. He fails to involve the viewer in the love story. Also, there seems to be a desperate attempt to project Hrithik Roshan as a Hollywood star and to woo the crossover audience. Music (RajeshRoshan) is a mixed bag. While ‘Zindagi’ and Dil kyun yeh mera’ are melodious, the other songs don’t befit a love story of this canvas. Background score (Salim-Sulaiman) is good. Ayananka Bose’s camerawork is splendid. Technically, excellent. Action scenes (Mark Brooks, Bobby Burns, Edward A. Duran, Gilley Grey and Sham Kaushal) are excellent. Production values are grand. The look and feel of the film is like that of a Hollywood film.
On the whole, Kites is a disappointment. Its English-Spanish dialogues on the one hand and lack of romance, emotions and comedy on the other hand will keep the audience hugely dissatisfied. The producers have made a handsome profit by selling the distribution rights to a corporate house but the latter will lose part of its investment as collections will come down fast after the initial euphoria and hype dies down.