May 14, 2021
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Hrithik gets to display his masculinity for what it truly is—highly affected, curiously feminine, excessively conceited and self-absorbed...

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Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Barbara Mori, Kangana Ranaut
Directed by Anurag Basu
Rating: *

A few hours after watching Kites there is very little you’d care to remember of it. What’s there to bear in mind of a pedestrian film about two gold-diggers-cum-lovers — an Indian guy and a Mexican girl — trying to run away from a bunch of villains, led by father Kabir Bedi and son Nick Brown, who run a gambling den in neon Las Vegas and are in the weird habit of cutting away the ears of their opponents? 

In fact, whatever you do remember of Kites is for all the wrong reasons. Like I recall the cheesy lines. That inane gem which sets the tone for the film: “When two kites fly too close to each other one of them has to get cut.” What an edifying note to start on! Or hero Hrithik’s candid confession to heroine Barbara: “I can do a lot with my hands”. “Wicked! Naughty!” you think. But then a few scenes later he expertly stitches the wound of Barbara, with those very hands. The multi-faceted bloke does much else. He dances, cries for his mom, looks coyly at his love, kisses her, jumps trains, rides cars and bikes, shoots and gets shot at. And, as though this wasn’t enough, he also sings the execrable title song, that too in dreadful English. 

The over-oiled, muscular body of Hrithik sports a peek-a-boo Calvin Klein underwear and some sexy tan. Those green eyes shed copious tears, rather fetchingly at that. In Kites Hrithik gets to display his masculinity for what it truly is—highly affected, curiously feminine, excessively conceited and self-absorbed. In other words, the kind of vain man who stirs very little within any sensible woman. Or, perhaps, I am just growing old and more demanding of my men. 

Barbara sports a pout and a smile, alternately, from one scene to the next. The lovers share EWS families and buff bods. So there is a desperate, deliberate display of skin, as though they were posing for some Kingfisher calendar shoot. She takes off her two dollar worth of bra to try and pay off the 42 dollars she owes him. And he lovingly gives her the jacket to save her from the rain. This, ladies and gentlemen, is meant to be the moment when true love strikes! 

There’s more that’s intriguing about Hrithik. He tucks away his money in the safety of a refrigerator. How much more hoary can you get? Kites, despite its cool imagery (thanks to cinematographer Ayananka Bose), is rooted in the grammar of those ancient and archaic Hindi films where, in the absence of a doctor, some commoner would pull out the bullet from the hero’s wound and we’d all collectively writhe in pain. But that was then. When a similar scene plays out here and now we certainly don’t writhe, we only cringe. 

Kangana in the long dance number with Hrithik looks too muscular. As though some body double had filled in those dancing shoes. That apart she looks pretty, plays deranged as she has done in 100% of her films and gets nearly forgotten in middle by the script-writers. Nick Brown barks his lines in a strange accent and irritates like hell. I wanted to dance in the aisle when his mouth was finally taped off by Hrithik in one of the scenes. What a relief would it have been had he not been in the film at all. 

The mix of lingos — Spanish, Hindi, English — is fine but it gets funny when every sentence in English gets translated into Hindi. Similarly every scene gets repeated at least twice, thanks to several flashbacks. As though the foolish audience didn’t get it the first time. Besides, in the name of style there is lots of rain (Road to Perdition), slo-mo shots and stylised action sequences (John Woo). And, in the name of music, there are a few clumsy compositions that play indistinctly in the background. 

A love story works if it can make the audience feel for the lovers. In Kites there is not an ounce of romance or passion. What is it that draws the two together? Where’s the pull, the tug? And what is it (family, caste, religion or their own inner demons) that keeps them apart? Nothing about the relationship is compelling enough. There are protracted stretches of simulated fervour and ready kisses but it feels as though a lot may have been snipped off on the editing table to escape the Censors. 

All the good that can come out of Kites is that Hrithik (with that stubble-long hair get-up) might land himself the role of Jesus Christ in some C grade Hollywood film. And, in an exact turnaround of the 3 Idiots scenario, unlike a Chetan Bhagat, Anurag Basu might actually take the Roshans to court for giving him unwarranted credit for directing a film that could never be his own.


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