By Minu Jain
Film: "Kites"; Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Barbara Mori, Kangana Ranaut, Kabir Bedi, Nick Brown; Director: Anurag Basu; Music: Rajesh Roshan; Producer : Rakesh Roshan
Too many strings attached to this "Kites" that never soars to the heights it should and becomes a predictable tale of star-crossed lovers set in the glittering lights of Las Vegas and the brooding deserts of Mexico. It's "Matchpoint", "Bonny and Clyde" and much else rolled into one, failing to take off on its own.
The problem with "Kites" is that it is never truly its own film. The first half constantly takes you back to Woody Allen's compelling "Matchpoint" with the doomed quartet of Jai (Hrithik), his girlfriend Gina (Kangana Ranaut), her brother Tony (Nick Brown) and his fiancée Natasha (Barbara).
Life is set to roll for the rakish, down and out Jai with Gina, the fabulously rich, hopelessly in love daughter of a Vegas casino owner, until he meets Natasha, the exotic Mexican immigrant also looking out for the good life. The attraction is inevitable - and fatal.
The pull is irresistible. Designer watches, flashy cars and jewels beckon but Jai and Natasha are caught in a relationship that transcends language. She knows no English and he knows no Spanish.
So far so good, before the script decides to meander into a "Bonny and Clyde" caper with the couple on the run from the powerful Tony robbing a bank. Completely unnecessary and giving no time for the intensity of the romance to develop.
The narrative moves back and forth in time, beginning with a bloodied Jai tumbling out of a train wagon and stumbling across the desertscape to look for his ladylove.
So you get a sense of what is in store. The predictability of the script is not really a problem - the opening line of the film lays the tenor, with Jai in a voiceover telling you that two kites flying together can never soar very high or very long because one has to get cut.
This is a chronicle of a tragedy foretold, much in the way of other epic romances. Dare I say Romeo Juliet!
It could have worked. The much talked about chemistry between the lead couple is in evidence, but not enough. Director Anurag Basu is at his best in the intimate scenes.
Like when Jai looks out of his window to see Natasha being roughed up by Tony and goes to comfort her. There are no words but the shadow play on the wall of their fingers intertwining is romance as it should be.
The soul of true love is there somewhere, but it gets lost in the two-hour film that also brings in murder, torture and gunmen galore. Basu seems lost in the larger macro frame of the film.
The two main characters are not fleshed out enough, and the others around them are like caricatures. How many Bobs (Kabir Bedi as the powerful, ruthless casino owner who does not balk at shooting down cheaters) have we seen, or Tonys, the archetypal jealous boyfriend with an army of goons behind him?
Many loosely scripted scenes as well and gaps that really should have been filled for a lucid narrative. A script doctor was badly need to stitch up the loose ends.
But the superb cinematography of "Kites" that has the look of a truly international film, Rajesh Roshan's lilting music -- "Zindagi, zindagi" is true winner -- and some heartwarming moments score.
Barbara Mori also strikes a chord, and she's a real good looker. But the best for the last -- Hrithik Roshan looks better than he has in any other film, and with him dominating virtually every frame, this one is a treat for his fans. Go swoon, if you must.
Bollywood.com Rating: 2