Not rated, 130 minutes (Indian version); 90 minutes (U.S./International version)
"Kites": Energetic but unoriginal Bollywood production
The new Indian film "Kites" brims with international flavor. It's an Indian production, filmed in the U.S. and the leads are Indian and Spanish. Much like Bollywood productions, it exudes a cheesy feel, in spite of decent chemistry between the leads and some nice visuals and action set pieces. Unfortunately, it's not terribly original or substantial, and much of the flavor is lost in a saggy, predictable second act.
J (Hrithik Roshan), a streetsmart Bollywood dance instructor in Las Vegas, is now on the wanted list is mortally wounded and left to die in the harsh Mexican desert. The only thing that keeps him alive is his quest to find Natasha (Barbara Mori), a woman engaged to another man, but destined to be his. While Natasha speaks only Spanish, J does not understand a word of Spanish but the two are able to communicate through the language of love and passion.
"Kites" is often a fun, interesting film to watch, filled with some enjoyable moments. On the downside it's a little slight and shabby and the story feels borrowed from mostly Hollywood (not Bollywood) elements. There are two versions of the film, one in Hindi and one in English that will be shown in U.S. and outside of India. The English version deletes all the Bollywood dance numbers but retains the Bollywood score and songs and adds more action. Probably a good move though the underdeveloped script seems to incorporate too many well-worn elements: buddy-buddy on the run, western, action adventure, thriller, romantic comedy, even telenovela that it makes it feel too bland at times.
In spite of a second act that doesn't do much, the handsome leads have great chemistry together; Indian actor Roshan and Spanish actress Mori exude a nice sensuality that few couple have. Some of the direction by Indian director Anurag Basu ("Life in a Metro") feels choppy at times particularly halfway through, but he handles the action and visuals with aplomb, and outside of the leads, is the film's chief highlight.
"Kites" is modestly entertaining but bland, soapy Bollywood with some action and crime thrown in for good measure. It's worth a look but you're likely not to remember much of it after you've left the theater.