Reviewed by Marc Glassman
Anurag Basu, director
Rakesh Roshan, producer
Starring: Hrithik Roshan (J.), Barbara Mori (Linda/Natasha), Kangana Ranaut (Gina), Nick Brown (Tony), Kabir Bedi (Bob), Yuri Sari (Jamaal)
Young lovers on the run. Mafia killers on the loose. Las Vegas in its most lushly criminal glory. And singing and dancing.
Wait a minute. Is this Hollywood?
No, Kites is a spectacular attempt by Bollywood to grab the global marketplace by hitting a lot of sweet spots simultaneously. This beautifully shot and produced 130-minute film will be released today on 2300 screens worldwide, 200 of which are in North America. Next week, a 90-minute “remix” by Brett Ratner (Red Dragon, Rush Hour) will hit the rest of the US and Canadian markets—with less singing but just as much shooting.
Kites is the story of star-crossed lovers J. from India (but an American citizen) and Mexican Linda, who meet when he marries her so that she can get a green card. They part without even kissing but, of course, the fates intervene. Time passes and when they meet again, Linda, now calling herself Natasha, has hooked up with Tony, a wealthy Indian Mafioso playboy while J. is engaged to Tony’s sister, Gina.
J. and his green-card wife decide to celebrate their “divorce” the night before Tony and “Natasha” are to be married but the Mafioso prince catches on and the next thing you know, the lovely duo are on the run. And in love. With guns blazing and tunes popping up in cars and motels and old cowboy joints in the American West.
Barbara Mori (Linda) and Hrithik Roshan (J.) make a gorgeous couple and Kites does offer them a unique dilemma: Linda only speaks Spanish while J. talks in Hindi and English but “no habla espanol.” Somehow, true love finds a way—but a bigger problem for filmmakers Anurag Basu and Rakesh Roshan is the film’s jarring clashes in tone. We all love Tarantino but here the movement from romance to action to music doesn’t work well.
It’s also way long! Ratner’s remix may well be the answer for North American audiences. While Kites isn’t the grand success it wants to be, the “international” barrier has been crossed. Pretty soon we should be singing Hooray for Bollywood! And that would be a good thing. Aren’t we all tired for Hollywood’s clichés?