With the glittering spectacle of Las Vegas as its backdrop, the Bollywood film "Kites" got a better than average U.S. distribution upon its release relative to other films of its type. Consequently, it stands as one of the highest grossing Bollywood stories shown in mainstream American theaters and even broke into the box office Top Ten for the week of its debut. It certainly seems appropriate as this hybrid tale of romance, music, action and heightened drama clearly takes its plotting influence from Westernized big budget films. "Kites" doesn't aim for realism, far from it! It is a bold, colorful and glossy film product that shuffles together several genres, adds two appealing leads, splashes in some stylized romanticism and a dash of charm and emerges as a crowd pleaser. This truly international tale of lovers on the run features performances in English, Spanish, and Hindi as well as variations and combinations of each. Sure, it may be a bit overstuffed and chaotic at times--but it is grandly entertaining!
The primary plot point is pure romance novel pulp. A streetwise Vegas hustler does whatever is necessary to bring in the cash. While romancing the daughter of a wealthy and dangerous casino boss, he becomes entangled with her brother's beautiful fiance. This begins a chain reaction with dire consequences. Seeking retribution, the hot headed brother relentlessly pursues the young lovers with vengeance and murder on his mind. With some pretty ridiculous (in an entertaining way) car chases, a couple of shoot-em-ups, and some double crosses--"Kites" kicks into action mode as the chase heads toward the border. Never fear, though, the sweethearts have plenty of opportunities for chaste canoodling, sassy banter, and a musical montage or two. Fans expecting star Hrithik Roshan to showcase some hot dance moves may be disappointed that there is only one such number near the beginning of the film--but really, how much would you want to dance if you were taking bullets? Will the couple escape? Is is happily ever after or bittersweet sorrow? You'll just have to tune in.
The film is layered into alternating timelines that heighten the mystery which unravels to reveal the lovers' fate. This is a wild and fun ride with moments of quiet tenderness, sweeping melodrama, silly humor, and over-the-top action mayhem. Really a great popcorn flick--this is entertainment for the sake of entertainment and not meant to be taken very seriously. Roshan and co-star Barbara Mori are immensely appealing and pretty easy on the eyes as well. Even when the film veers into wacky territory, the pair keep you grounded. The film is gorgeous to look at as well--with the Blu-ray, it is exceptionally vivid and colorful.
The DVD set contains the original version AND what is referred to as a Hollywood version. I'm not exactly sure why someone would be interested in a Brett Ratner supervised alternate cut of the movie as opposed to the director's vision. The Hollywood edition is thirty minutes shorter, loses much of the sweetness and musicality, and highlights the action set pieces. It mystifies me, quite literally, but if you want it--you've got it. My advice, though, stick with the original and true version of "Kites." It has charm to spare and achieves real heights of operatic melodrama! KGHarris, 2/11.