Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

May 21, 2010

Flies, but never soars

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 1:27 am

May 21, 2010

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

Director: Anurag Basu

Appropriate that Brett Ratner, director of such bloated Hollywood blockbusters as Rush Hour and X:Men: The Last Stand decided to put his weight behind the Hrithik Roshan-starrer Kites, itself an all-too-familiar yet engaging popcorn flick about lovers on the run that’s padded with enough explosions and car chases to burn a sizeable hole in any studio’s pocket.

Directed by Anurag Basu, Kites stars Hrithik Roshan as J, a charismatic Vegas hustler who thinks he has it made when he attracts Gina (played by Kangana Ranaut), the pretty daughter of a powerful and dangerous casino owner. But when he locks eyes with the ravishing Natasha (played by Mexican actress Barbara Mori), the fiancee of Gina’s hotheaded brother Tony, mutual attraction strikes and before you know it the couple is on the run from Gina’s angry family.

Scripted by as many as four writers (one is credited for story, three for screenplay), Kites is woefully predictable and ridiculously repetitive, even as the film’s second half is punctuated by long-winded chases across the stark Mexican desert and elaborate shootout scenes that always seem to end with J escaping from his pursuer by the skin of his teeth.

The fresh twist to this old-fashioned story is provided by the fact that J and Natasha share only fractured bits of dialogue as he speaks no Spanish, and she speaks no English or Hindi. Yet it’s their smoldering chemistry, their playful flirtations, and their comical attempts to communicate that make this less-than-spectacular film undeniably watchable. Basu creates wonderful little moments that are hard to resist, like the one in which they make shadow puppets against a wall without exchanging any words. Or the scene in which they bicker in a bank where things have gone horribly wrong.

Stunningly shot by Ayananka Bose who references everything from Thelma & Louise to Road To Perditionfor some of the film’s key moments, Kites has the look and feel of a sumptuous A-grade Hollywood production, combined with the cheese factor of a Bollywood B-movie – caricaturish villains, clunky dialogue, and over-sentimental back-stories about dead parents.

But popcorn entertainers are best enjoyed when they aren’t overanalyzed, and Kites is no exception. Thrilling action set-pieces, a super-fluid dance number to show off Hrithik’s killer moves, and repeated glimpses at the toned bodies of both lead stars. It’s almost enough to forgive the uniformly bad acting of all supporting cast, particularly Nicholas Brown who plays Natasha’s nostril-flaring, revenge-seeking fiance Tony. As the unceremoniously dumped Gina, meanwhile, Kangana Ranaut is wasted in a role that appears either unfairly under-written or mercilessly edited.

It’s evident the makers have chosen to focus solely on the blindingly good-looking lead pair, who are in all fairness, this film’s saving grace. The sparks between Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori light up the screen, and Hrithik’s performance in particular makes up for many of the lapses, including the film’s sluggish pace. For them alone, Kites is worth a watch.

I’m going with three out of five for director Anurag Basu’s Kites. Watch it because it’s an ambitious, brave experiment that may not always work, but it tries. Which is more than what one can say about many films we’ve seen recently.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

1 Comment »

  1. Although I expected much more from “Kites”it was not a bad movie.It’s definitely watchable.As you said definitely better than the rubbish we are getting nowadays!

    Comment by SUNIL DASWANEY — July 7, 2010 @ 9:41 pm

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