Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Barbara Mori, Kangana Ranaut
Director: Anurag Basu
Runtime: 128 min.
Verdict: Here’s the deal. Ms. Mori’s character commits suicide. Mr. Roshan’s commits suicide. They are united in the afterlife, under the water. And the whole public laughs. And shrugs. And we do live happily ever after. Anything more?
Genre: Romance, Tragedy, Action, Thriller, Soft, Porn
While watching a movie, I would take down mental notes. I learn professional critics have, well, professional means. Like a notepad. Or something savvier. You know, keeping with the times. My brother gives me his old Nokia E61i, which has a little ‘Notes’ key on it. I am all for technology, especially when it is new, and I get to be a monkey with it. And feel special like a professional. First time it was, and I religiously took down notes. After a while I realized my notes were so boring I started checking Facebook. Kites is bad, and really boring bad.
And yes, Mr. Basu cannot make an unpretentious film even his very life depended on it. For that matter, I believe, even a compassionate film is millions of miles beyond him. My guess is he has assumed himself to be an artiste, with a capital A, a master of poetry. Maybe, just maybe, he believes he must be the blessing Indian cinema is supposedly waiting for. I hope to God I am wrong, and if I am not, Mr. Basu is so far-off from the truth he might as well make movies on Neptune. The thing is he is not just bad. Bad, I can digest. Michael Bay is bad. Brett Ratner is bad. Mr. Basu is that and worse. He is offensive, and his movies are immoral garbage. Mr. Rakesh Roshan isn’t too far behind on the moral spectrum either. Koyla is enough evidence, and just for the sake of some reference, Kites is Koyla Reloaded. The two sure as hell make for a formidable team.
Consider the opening. For that, consider the title. The movie is about star-crossed lovers, or at least the team intends to hammer home that point. Oh yeah now that I mention it, Mr. Basu’s films if manifest into something tangible, might resemble a hammer. And Mr. Roshan’s? Well, a sledgehammer. I tell you they are a formidable team. They are hell bent upon etching the names of these lovers – Linda (Ms. Mori) and J (Mr. Roshan) – right alongside all the big guys. You know, Jack and Rose, Bonnie and Clyde, stuff like that. Kites is a film desperate to be a film from the west. It has no originality, except that Mr. Basu believes he has seen a lot of films, and now is an expert. So he gets along the job of poetry and faux-audacity.
The opening frame. What do you expect? Two kites flying in the sky. As a viewer, and as a person, you know the stuff with kites fencing it out in the sky, and one of them dropping down. This image and the title is melodramatic corny poetry enough. But the film is unaware, and it believes, it has created something breathtakingly powerful and BEAUTIFUL, and which needs to be explained to us. And so a voiceover obliges. Thank you very much. If only Mr. Basu had seen and experienced silent movies, and just opened the film with some silent imagery. Two kites flying and fluttering. In the bright sunny sky. Not that it would have been great, but at least it would have been pleasant.
Now, consider the manner in which they have designed Kites, as a Romeo-and-Juliet tragedy. I ask – why is the need for Linda to commit suicide? But then never mind, we all know the answer. Still, I believe, there is a way to make a sappy tragedy, and this team here is far, far away from it. Like in a different galaxy. Here is their idea of a love story. Have two BEAUTIFUL people. Have them wear little. You know, the guy should have his chest and awesome abs on display so that women can well, gasp. The woman’s thighs and cleavage ought to be on display. All the time. Have them change their clothes for no particular reason. Show them on a boat in a bikini, for, well no particular reason. Have BEAUTIFUL locations behind. The scenery should be BEAUTIFUL. The moment should be BEAUTIFUL. Meadows are BEAUTIFUL. Mountains and cliffs are BEAUTIFUL. And that is all we audiences need to hold our hands together and fall in love all over again. And maybe, if time permits, rip our eyes apart and blow each other’s heads in love, because you see, we can only take so much amount of the BEAUTIFUL. I wonder, the territory in which they are working is puppy romance, or unintentional soft porn? I do take the liberty to dismiss the former because (a) we do not feel anything and (b) let us face it, puppy romance is all about getting laid. Twilight or Kites, it is all a wet dream. Oh, an inept attempt at soft porn, dear reader, so that you don’t get too excited.
Consider the number of obligatory side characters. The nice friend. The lovers get married in Mexico in a “awww it is so cute” wedding, where J intending to say I love you in Mexican, ends up saying I shit in my pants because of an earlier joke. I
Oh I digress. The lovers are naughty. The obligatory side character comes jumping from outside and the camera moves out. Look at the amateurishness of filmmaking. Everyone knows that this guy is going to get killed. And he does. It is an obligatory death, and you question the morality. And the skill. They are even unable to have a decent set-up. These are the occasions when I really appreciate the enormity of Hitchcock.
Oh, another obligatory gets shot later too, but then, never mind. Kites is boring, and the filmmaking utterly mediocre at best. The cinematography feels like a vomit of BEAUTIFUL. For some reason, Mr. Basu believes a timeline-fractured script is the way to go, and it is not long before you throw up your arm and shout that it would have been far better if you just showed it chronologically. Fracturing a script isn’t just jumbling it all up. Even the great Kubrick failed miserably with The Killers. But at least he was making a thriller. These guys are making a romance, and without feelings, there is no romance darling. You increase your own troubles, for you got to pack so much more life into every single sequence, and each one of them needs to acquire a life of its own. Mr. Basu shows off his filmmaking prowess by a climatic gunfight which places the Road to Perdition shoot-out inside a Sin City frame. That is it. That is the extent of the artistry. The style exists for no reason but itself. And the poor thing is it is not even original. Just borrowed. Everything about Kites is artificial and borrowed. There is no clash of cultures, because hey, there’s no culture. And yeah, everyone was bored. I am bored, right now, writing all this. It feels so much like an exercise, that I don’t even want to dwell into the morality of the characters. What’s the point? This is just, well, unremarkable but annoying bad.