Beautiful stars shine dimly in this Bollywood/Hollywood/Tele Novela crossover


on May 22, 2010 by Tim Cogshell

Bollywood pageantry combines with the melodrama of the Tele Novella and the high-concept studio finish of ‘80s action films for this big, often terrible, yet completely engrossing film from Indian director Anurag Basu. A "remix version" of the film, presented by Rush Hour director Brett Ratner is set for release May 28th. This Kites is 130 minutes and opens with a classic Bollywood style dance number. The remix is 90 minutes and missing many of the musical diversions (according to the notes); yet we are sure the missing 40 minutes in the Ratner version will not matter qualitatively. Nothing here is so complicated that a missing scene or dance sequence or two can possibly matter. Kites is all about spectacle and drama and action. As for the rest, it's one's interest in (or tolerance for) the Bollywood and Tele Novella bits that will make the difference. The Slum Dog Millionaire audience, after all, was bigger than anyone guessed, and the filmmakers here offer a nod to that audience (which you can find if you watch closely enough). The target Indian and Mexican American audiences for the 130 minute version will come out if the marketing finds them. Other American audiences will likely hold for the remix with its more American soundtrack and a little less dancing.

The film is recorded in English and Spanish with some Hindi and a few English subtitles. The cast is constructed from veteran Indian actors and several lovely ingénues, both male and female. The story is a about a young, poor, orphaned Hindu boy called J (Hrithik Roshan) who learns to survive by his charm, dancing skills and astounding abs. Roshan is so handsome he's nearly a caricature of The Tall, Dark and Handsome man. If he can act, it would be difficult to notice. We did not notice. He can, however, dance. The same might be said of the lovely Bárbara Mori, who plays Natasha, an illegal immigrant who makes her way to Las Vegas where she becomes engaged to the son of a wealthy Indian mob family. Mori is too beautiful for words, and her presence on screen is so captivating as to only be eclipsed by-Roshan. Their scenes together read like the sort of television novellas that play ubiquitously on the networks found in the middle of the cable TV dial, where the languages are unknown but the dire circumstances are always crystal clear.

As it turns out J has managed to get himself engaged to Gina (Kangna Ranaut-another lovely ingénue), the beloved daughter of the same mob family Natasha is set to marry into. Of course J and Natasha fall for each other and betray their respective betroths and thus find themselves on the run from the evil Las Vegas based Hindu mob family that will stop at nothing to get them. The rest is Bolly-Holly-Tele-Novella heaven, in three languages.

And if you see the original 130-minute version you get lavish dance numbers and 3 music videos all before the top of the third act.

Distributor: Reliance Big Cinema
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Bárbara Mori, Kangana Ranaut, Kabir Bedi and Nicholas Brown
Director: Anurag Basu
Screenwriters: Anurag Basu, Robin Bhatt and Akarsh Khurana
Producers: Rakesh Roshan
Genre: Drama/Action/Romance; Hindi- and Spanish languages, subtitled
Rating: Unrated
Running time: 130 min.
Release date: May 21 ltd

Tags: Hrithik Roshan, Bárbara Mori, Kangana Ranaut, Kabir Bedi, Nicholas Brown, Anurag Basu, Robin Bhatt, Akarsh Khurana

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