This post was first published on PFC.
Kya audience ullu ka pattha hai?
This question should spring to your mind if you are an accomplished Chinese cook but haven’t cooked a Peking Duck in the last three years. Actually, you should hope your duck doesn’t get burnt on an overheated grill, which the enthusiastic foreman turned to the maximum just as a wild experiment. For Hrithik Roshan, I’m afraid I get the same creepy feeling, and humbly offer to empathize with him in the event the goose of Kites does get charred by the next week.
Having merrily ‘Murder’ed a ‘Gangster’, Anurag Basu was living a comfortable ‘Life In A ….Metro’ before Rakesh Roshan pounced on him for directing Kites in New Mexico, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Naturally, the expectations from the duo were high given Roshan’s penchant for unconventional storylines (KNPH, Krrish) and Basu’s stark way of storytelling. Moreover, Indian audiences do not often get to see gorgeous ‘phoren mahilas’ in lead roles, therefore the babe quotient was intact too. But there was the catch! Haven’t we seen Basu’s characters happily embarrassing death at the end? Wait! Did I say embarrassing? I meant embracing actually. Sorry. No spoilers there though.
All in all, the Hrithik-Rakesh Roshan-Anurag Basu combo held the promise of a big canvas extravaganza, replete with ample high octane action, fundoo ‘naach-gaana’, earth shaking drama and stunning visual appeal, not to include the perks of watching an exotic Mexican siren prancing around in a bikini and biting Hrithik’s ears atop large haystacks.
Screenplay – Anurag Basu, Rakesh Roshan, Robin Bhatt
Foreplay (I mean the story) – Rakesh Roshan
Music – Rajesh Roshan
Cinematography – Ayananka Bose (Tashan, Dostana, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom)
Choreography – Flexy Stu (Who?)
Jay (Hrithik Roshan) is a petty Jack-of-all-trades in Las Vegas who appears to be in a hurry to rake in the big moolah. His unscrupulous jobs include marrying green card seeking illegal immigrants (all women of course) for a hefty fee. He also tutors Gina (Kangana Ranaut) in salsa and as a part of his get-rich-quick attempt, woos his way into her family, comprising the ruthless casino owner Bob ( Kabir Bedi – Gina’s Father) and his son Tony (Nick Brown). At a family event, Jay comes across the stunning Natasha (Barbara Mori), who also happens to be the fiancée of Tony. Jay becomes tongue tied in awe and remembers Natasha as one of his many wives whom he married for money. But even before you can say w00ts, Jay and Natasha (who too is in for the bucks) are happily guzzling champagne and cavorting in the rain on the Vegas streets, oblivious of the fact that Tony’s suspicions have already been sufficiently aroused.
What follows next is a clichéd sequence of tumultuous commotion shot non linearly in gay abandon by Basu across timelines and geographical locations, involving chaotic car chases, frenzied gunfire, hot air balloon flights, heists and stand-offs as the two lovebirds who chirp in different tunes escape from the wrath of Tony and emote strongly wherever they can, expressing their undying adoration for each other amidst all the cataclysmic mayhem. Hrithik bravely attempts to pull off this façade of pseudo-western escapism fabricated by the Roshan-Basu duo, though at places, his mannerisms falter, betraying his struggle to come to terms with his new found avatar of a global hero. Barbara Mori, though, is at her best, as she carries herself with wonderful élan, essaying a role which demands the powerful subtlety of expressions as well as the appeal of a superbly sculpted body in equal measures. Apart from the individual geniuses, Kites wavers unsteadily almost throughout and disappears in what appears to be a chasm of pathetic mediocrity on the part of its storytellers.
The action sequences often appear forced, and seem to be stitched together with their seams standing out like that in a badly thrashed T20 cricket ball in the twentieth over. The story is woefully lacking in imagination, with predictable sequences involving their escape through the US countryside. In almost a mockery of casino dons, reminiscent of the glorious ‘Ajit’ years, Hrithik is handed a gun by Bob and Tony (looks quite phony) who ask him to shoot a man who is alleged to have cheated in the casino. Hrithik makes complete a**holes of the two and sets the cheat free after some inane mumbo jumbo, something the two dons appear to endorse quite willfully and nod their heads in appreciative unison. Unbelievable! The film scores less on the oomph quotient too. A few more dollops of Barbara Mori romping about on the beach in her underlings would have put the proverbial fizz back into the otherwise flat coke. Hrithik, too, hung his dancing shoes rather early in the movie, or that was how I felt. Kangana Ranaut seemed to be run-out in the first over itself. Overall, the film appeared like a large and glitzy departmental store, which was miserably short on essential supplies. The crowd I sat with in the theatre comprised a lot of diehard Hrithik fans who lamented the hopeless end and loudly wondered if they had bought tickets to Spanish speaking classes. I was looking to catch a wink of sleep when the last scenes were being enacted, where Jay guns down Bob and Tony’s entire entourage amidst heavy rain and silent gunfire, when I was rudely shaken by a loud bang. At first I though it was the sound of Kites bombing at the box office, but then realized that it was Kangana who had fired a shot and woken up the audience. The only redeeming feature appeared to be the stunning cinematography; Anayanka Bose doing his best to paint the canvas in temporal shades of opulence interspersed brilliantly with the unforgiving landscapes of the unexplored deserts of New Mexico.
I sincerely hope Roshan and Basu come up with Kkites – 2. Let them cast a sexy Polynesian New Zealander in the female lead, name her Barbara Maori, and treat us to some exotic hula hula to compensate for the drab fare that they dished out in the name of crossover cinema.
Kite-us interruptus for now.