Written by Anurag Basu, Robin Bhatt, Akarsh Khurana
Directed by Anurag Basu
Running Time: 2:04
Kites was a movie in two parts - the action stuff was great, the drama not so much.
Jay is a dance instructor who dreams of being rich. Living in Las Vegas he makes money on the side by marrying immigrants so they can get a green card. For a few hundred bucks, he's married for a few days then everyone moves on. Gina, a girl in his dance class, has fallen hard for Jay but he initially rejects her, until realizing her father is one of the richest men in the city. He starts to seduce her and together they go to her brother Tony's wedding. But there Jay realizes that Tony is marrying Natasha, one of Jay's green card marriages. And Jay has fallen in love with Natasha, and she with him. But no one crosses Tony and his family, and when he discovers Jay and Natasha's affair, the two lovebirds must go on the run to save themselves, and their love.
First off, the version of Kites I saw was NOT the Brett Ratner edited version. I saw the original Bollywood production. That being said, this wasn't a typical Bollywood film for a few reasons. It took place in the U.S. - mostly in Las Vegas, but also in some surrounding areas. The female lead is a Mexican superstar named Bárbara Mori, who is incredibly hot, even more so in person. And there weren't any traditional song & dance sequences, although there were a couple of musical breaks. The movie has dialogue in Hindi, English and Spanish. The movie also clocked in at just over 2 hours, so it's a good 30-60 minutes shorter than typical Bollywood. But the story (and the ending) were straight out of the old school Bollywood playbook. The story was fairly straightforward - Jay and Natasha have to do everything they can to escape Tony, otherwise he will likely kill them both. The story is told partially in flashback, as we see Jay lying in the middle of the desert as the movie opens and we see what happened that led him there. It's a technique used everywhere these days, but it's still effective. And with the dialogue being in three languages, it was kind of interesting to feel as lost as the characters felt trying to interact with each other. What set the movie apart from other Bollywood products however, were the production values and action sequences.
I've seen other Bollywood movies with explosions and action, but nothing ever looked as good as it did with Kites. None of the car chases or explosions looked like CGI to me, so I can't imagine what their budget was for blowing up cars. There were a couple of very impressive chase sequences that involved the actors driving down the road, jumping onto other cars and having cars jump over and on top of each other. I thought both Bárbara and Bollywood superstar Hrithik Roshan did really good jobs in the action sequences. Both looked like they really got beat up during the movie, and it's not surprising considering some of the things they had to do. Visually, the movie was very crisp and very clean, and, in a departure from Bollywood films, the dialogue sounded like it was captured on scene, rather than looped in afterwards.
But as good as the action was, it made the dramatic scenes feel really, really slow. You'd go from a 100mph action scene with people shooting at each other and cars blowing up, so a tender love story with two people dancing in the rain. The changes were so abrupt that I felt deflated every time we left the action. For that reason, I'm curious to see what the Brett Ratner version looks like, because I'm hoping that he manages the pacing of the film a lot better. The movie was so stop-and-start that it was hard to get really invested. I liked the two leads and thought they worked well together, but it was hard for me to enjoy them because there was no consistency in the pacing. If you could streamline the film so that it didn't jerk you around, it'd be a better movie.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I liked Kites but wish the pacing had been better. The leads were likeable, the story was old, but OK and the action sequences were really good. But with all the stops and starts it was hard to get emotionally invested in the film.