If you’ve ever seen a beautiful horse put through its paces and thought to yourself, “Hmmm, I wonder if you could do that with pretty people?” then boy, do you have a treat in store for you! It’s called Kites, a movie starring the extremely delicious Hrithik Roshan, directed by Anurag Basu (Murder, Gangster) and produced by Rakesh Roshan a.k.a. Papa Roshan a.k.a. The Only Man Alive Who Knows Exactly How to Use Hrithik to Best Effect.
In the first half hour: see Hrithik in pain! see Hrithik’s amazing green eyes! see Hrithik stagger! affectingly! see Hrithik charm! while chewing a matchstick (?)! see Hrithik dance! jaw-droppingly astoundingly! (Shahid Kapoor go home!) see Hrithik scared! cutely! see Hrithik scared! by a creepy feely Bad Man! see Hrithik fall in love! see Hrithik be a gentleman! see Hrithik swim! see Hrithik lounging on a yacht in a lifestyle ad of the kind made by tobacco companies who can’t advertise their cancerous product! see Hrithik underwater! see Hrithik con! effortlessly! see Hrithik smile! see Hrithik in formal wear! see Hrithik walk! And do all of this in slow motion and extreme close up. (The way you like it, don’t lie!)
About the only thing Hrithik doesn’t do a lot of, in fact, is talk. Which is not a bad thing as he’s supposed to be an Indian-American grifter in Las Vegas and let’s face it, that’s just a Salman Khan-comparison trap waiting to happen. I mean, that’s your heads-I-win-tails-you-lose scenario right there. When he does speak, he puts it to good use. “Honeymoon extra!” he says tantalizingly at one point. Jokes! Or have we finally gotten a Bollywood gigolo we can all get behind? Ahem. Metaphorically speaking, I mean.
Filling in the silence is a fair amount of muzak and voiceover as he explains his down-on-his-luck status and why he’s marrying random women for money to counter it. The movie uses the silences to great effect: the early Hrithik was notable (to me, anyway) for his dismaying dedication to the !Face! method of acting, in which he quivered facial muscles I don’t think science has yet discovered in order to convey emotions like “hello”. He’s largely gotten over it (his face probably went on strike after Yaadein. Or that under-disccused epic, Main Prem ki Deewani Hoon, whichever came later) and in the silence of Kites, his expressions are finally fighting in their own class.
In fact, I was honestly impressed to note that in this movie he actually manages to wipe his face of all expression in a scene or two, confining himself to a faint frown at the most. I know that sounds snarky, but I have seldom been more serious. “Wooden” is not his problem. I think we can safely chalk this up as another win under Papa Roshan’s unchallenged champion status as The Only Man Alive Who Knows Exactly How to Use Hrithik to Best Effect.
Now that we’re all in the same hormone frenzy, comes the next 100 minutes. In which J Ray (that’s right, Hrithik Roshan’s character got rejected from The Jersey Shore) and Linda (Barbara Mori), try to give the slip to the insane and insanely rich siblings Tony (Nicholas Brown) and Gina (Kangana Ranaut) after certain life-altering, event-complicating passions come to the fore. There are shadow puppets, car chases, explosions, slow motion montages galore, rain, sweet exchanges of love, touching backstories, make out sessions in the wild, promises of everlasting love in three languages, Yuri Suri and Kabir Bedi in effective cameos, and a whole bunch of other stuff.
You’ll either eat it all with a spoon and beg for seconds, or you’ll sit there for the last half hour bothering the person in the next seat by jiggling your legs, fidgeting in your seat, breathing heavily, checking the time, sighing loudly, and generally acting the nuisance until an annoyed auntie with tears streaming down her face and samosas on her breath turns around and tells you to shush.
But if you do decide to check it out, take my word for it and please do it in the theater. Kites is one of the most visually pleasing movies I’ve ever seen and only half the credit for that goes to Hrithik Roshan. The other half is all on the excellent camera crew, which includes directors of photography Ayananka Bose, Steve Koster and Jacques Haitkin. So if you’re planning to catch this on DVD, throw it a bone and watch it on the big screen: even if you walk out hating the movie, you’ll have had the full-screen experience.