Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Kites: Romance is in the air
It has been such a long time since Bollywood has made a true-blue romance that purely on that merit alone, “Kites” is worth a watch.
Passion, chemistry and the cruel world against true love have become secondary when it comes to matters like reforming our education system or discovering new worlds.
Anurag Basu’s “Kites” makes no such pretences. It is about a boy and a girl madly, passionately in love who have to fight to stay together. There is no larger message business here.
What there is instead is crackling chemistry and beautifully shot scenes and a reminder of the good old 80s and 90s when love was the main theme in Indian cinema, making you forgive many of the obvious flaws in the film.
Hrithik Roshan plays J, a dashing but slippery customer who bides his time by marrying immigrants for green cards and teaches dance classes while he waits to hit the jackpot at the many casinos of Las Vegas.
When one of his students, the daughter of a rich casino owner falls for him, J plays along but his plans go awry when he falls for Linda (Barbara Mori), the fiancée of the casino owner’s son.
Desperately in love and on the run from her furious, gun-toting fiancé, they hit the road and in spite of the fact she can’t speak English and he doesn’t understand a word of Spanish, fall even more in love with each other.
Director Basu builds up the relationship between the two characters beautifully and the film’s best moments are when it is just Roshan and Mori on screen, often not exchanging a single word.
Where the film flags is when the director takes the spotlight away from his main characters and concentrates on lengthy action scenes and Indian actors speaking in bad American accents.
The other characters in “Kites” are so badly etched that you want to wince in pain — especially Kangana Ranaut who is saddled with such a flimsy role you are embarrassed for her.
Also, the second half moves to car chases and gun fights and Basu doesn’t really exploit the chemistry between the two main leads.
It is almost as if he was forced to give in to the commercial aspect of film-making because these scenes seem too forced to be seen as a natural extension of the script.
This is not an easy film to follow because more than half the dialogues are in Spanish and you have to depend on subtitles.
For all its flaws, “Kites” is a good one-time watch because of the crackling chemistry and some lovely visual storytelling. Romance is finally in the air.