A film like Kites can really be reviewed at two levels. Is it indeed a crossover film that strikes most of the right notes, or is it mushy 3 penny romance masquerading as a grand opera? The film was two years in the making and came to us carrying HUGE expectations. Hrithik was on an all time high, not having had a misstep since 2002 (Mujhse Dosti Karoge). I think one can discount Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon (2003) as he also had a mammoth Koi Mil Gaya that year. But the law of averages looks to have finally caught up with him. In an attempt to create a cross-over film, the Roshan combine has created something that is neither chalk nor cheese and is dull and boring into the bargain.
How does one review Kites? Should I talk about the fact that a film that is supposed to be foreign pasta and not desi biriyani, fails to take into account the fact that Las Vegas is a desert and it almost never rains there, that there is no ocean with reefs withing any reasonable radius of the city, the Mexico is FAR FAR away, that it is OK for movies like Singh is KINGG to show Melbourne being run by the Sikh mafia, but a crossover film should not show a family of Indian origin running a city and state in the US in a mafia like hold? I could go on and on, but that would be cruel to a film like Kites. It really does not stand up to such scrutiny. So what is Kites then? Is it a breathless frothy romantic actioner? Is it a desi/bidesi Romancing the Stone or even a slicker Dhoom 2? I really wish that were the case. I wish the film was a fun filled romp that kept me entertained and engaged so I did not have to start analyzing the inane plot and the slow pace. What are the positives then?
1. Barbara Mori does come out as a surprise, I did not expect acting competence but there is that in decent measure (though her ultra toothy smile got on my nerves after a while).
2. The cinematography was really superb, slick and sophisticated, and world class, We expect that with people like Santosh Sivan and Ravi Chandran, but this was Ayananka Bose, a job well done.
3. Hrithik’s FIRE dance sequence starts out very 90s but the spin on his head is gold. Why a Salsa teacher does break dancing in a competition is anyone’s guess. He is sincere and tries very hard in the film, so marks for effort.
What does not work at all:
1. The Las Vegas mafia is laughable, and the Reservoir Dogs moment is shoddy. In fact the film lifts many moments from many films, but then you never expect an original product from director Anurag Basu.
2. The chases are interminable and laughable, the one on the big rig is particularly bad, as the cop cars wait for car after car to crash into them, and they never move to the next lane (I am not even going to talk about the oblivious big-rig driver).
3. Hrithik and Barbara chemistry is okayish, but one never warms up to it, as we have no idea why they even fell in love.
4. The villain is laughably bad, and really drags down the film. And I do not mean cult bad in a Mogambo-ish way, but plain bad.
5. The story loops around until you see every scene three times, and it seems endless without saying anything.
6. The last 15 minutes could go into the realm of so bad it is good – almost, but not quite!
7. The music is in the background, but it neither lifts the films nor drags it downs, it merely IS there. The background music is thunderous in places.
8. The Hindi subtitles fly off the screen before one can see them fully, so most of what Barbara says is like being at the silent movies and watching a pout, and then a smile.
9. Too many closeups of picture perfect people leaves me feeling bored and completely uninterested in their fate.
All in all Kites is a complete misfire, it neither entertains, nor engages, nor is it a sincere film with some social message. It is simply a drag. I would be very surprised if Brett Ratner is able to do anything with this material in his REMIX cut. THIS will not be the crossover film the Roshans were hoping they had.