Monday, 31 May 2010


At the movies, those hungry for the quantity side of that equation should consider seeing Kites, a film that can honestly bill itself as having absolutely everything: Romance, fantastic action, singing, dancing, vengeance, car chases, intrigue, betrayal, poverty, fabulous wealth, destiny, immigration and bank robbery. And dance contests. And bikers. And subtitles. There’s so much going on in Kites that one lifetime isn’t nearly enough to cover it — the movie has to go into the afterlife to wrap it all up.

Kites is, essentially, a love story. With exploding cars. The movie stars Hrithik Roshan as Jay, a street-wise dance instructor living in Las Vegas. Jay narrates his own story at the start, talking about how he gambled and lost at many things in life. Then one of his dance students falls in love with him. Gina [Kangana Ranaut] is a beautiful young woman and obsessed with Jay. At first, he’s not interested, but the discovery that Gina is fabulously rich gets Jay’s attention. He begins a calculated courtship.

Jay and Natasha are star-crossed lovers, torn between their passion for each other and the marriages that will bring them the wealth they desire. Sorting it all out takes a very long time, some near-death experiences, a police chase, hot air balloons and singing and dancing in the pouring rain.

You can only sit there in the dark and marvel at the thing.

Kites has pockets of lovely comedy and deep troughs of lugubrious tragedy and a lot of dialogue like this: “Tony has power and money, but we have love!!!”

And it’s all presented in visually extravagant and emotionally operatic style. That’s typical of the hyperbolic Bollywood approach, which in many respects mimics the attitude of silent movies from a century ago rather than contemporary western cinematic practice. Audiences not habituated to it are likely to find “Kites” a weird fusion of romantic excess, overwrought violence and crudely-staged action, all played to the rafters, filmed in garish colors and accompanied by a bombastic background score. [The “tragic” ending goes so completely off the rails that it’s positively risible.]

The movie does, to be sure, showcase two photogenic stars in Roshan and Mori, but neither emerges very positively, not only because their physical attractiveness doesn’t entirely compensate for the greedy, grasping characters they’re playing, but because they overemote so strenuously. Still, the supporting cast go even further overboard, with the first prize for scenery-chewing undoubtedly going to Brown, who offers a combination of sleaziness and overripe menace that must be seen to be disbelieved.

As a conclusion, now, you reimagine all these doomed romantics on the same plate, add a dollop of Showgirls, a side of Dirty Dancing, a Scarface chaser and many, many, many Dukes of Hazzard car chases, and you have Kites, a Bollywood musical/gangster/melodrama romance in Hindi, Spanish and English.

Preposterous? Oh, yeah. Preposterously entertaining? You bet cha!daaa~

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