Somewhere in this well-chiselled curvaceous and crafty caper-romance about two desperados in love and on the run, you realize Kites has completely sucked you into its tale of the wanton and the passionate. And the twain shall bleed.
If you are familiar with Anurag Basu’s drama of desperate passion (Gangster, Life In A Metro) you’d know that this sensitive filmmaker knows how to slice through the moral fibre of contemporary relationships to arrive at the core truth of human existence. Everyone lives for him or herself. But if a like-minded soul -mate shows up you don’t mind losing your isolated individualism to include another entity in your universe of self- absorption.
The two handsome human beings in Kites who love each other start off on an entirely materialistic platform.
Early in the film when Jai (Hrithik Roshan) runs into Linda (Barbara Mori) in entirely unromantic circumstances, you know these two desperate souls will make a run for love even if it means losing their lives.
Basu’s finely-written film walks a very delicate line between a romance and a crime-caper. If the first- quarter of this handsomely evocative drama echoes Woody Allen’s Matchpoint, the rest of the high-octane adventure saga pays a nudging tribute to Arthur Penn’s Bonnie & Clyde.
To the film’s credit the couple’s desperate passion is never represented through scene after scene of torrid love scenes. The kisses are furtive, feeling and fleeting. Hrithik is the kind of actor who can express urgent passion with the narrowing of his eyes and the clenching of his jaws. In this strangely uncharted film about lovers on the run, Hrithik creates quite a tangible graph for his character who starts off as a self serving green-card hungry ogre and then rapidly moves into the embrace of desperate passion for a woman who is engaged to marry into a very dangerous family.
The crisscross of commitments and relationships is achieved in an easygoing sweep of drama and crime. The rest is taken care off by heart-in-the-mouth car chase sequences and stunts that seem to be done with an expertise uncommon to Hindi cinema.
Plenty has been said and written about the chemistry or the lack of it between the fugitive lovers. However looking at a couple for sexual compatibility in a film that seeks to champion empathy and companionship during times of screeching tyres and sanguinary stress is somewhat silly and unjust.
Perhaps if the couple had lived to have children they had promised each other, we’d have seen the sexual frisson .Not this time. Not here. Director Basu has carved the two lovers’ individual death sequences in a fusion celebrating an operatic self annihilation. Hrithik’s plunge to death reminded me of Kangna Ranaut‘s steep fall into death in Anurag Basu’s Gangster. Death becomes the drama.
Ayananka Bose’s cinematography is at times too flashy to underline the protagonist’s passion as seen in the bustle of hedonism. Akiv Ali’s editing, especially of the final 20 minutes, is evocative and energetic, making words unnecessary, as the lovers are fluent in two different languages that are incomprehensible to one another.
You wish there was more time for the lovers to get to know each other, and for us to watch them grow within each other’s space. Kites does not allow its protagonists or the audience the luxury of familiarity. Hrithik and Barbara are gone out of sight before we fully absorb or even observe their mutual passion.
And yet! The stolen moments, between the pair, lingers long after the deathly denouement. That longish sequence where Hrithik and Barbara, engaged to marry for money, show off their luxury goods to each other, underlines the inherent emptiness of a life lived for materialism.
The writing is as clever as the looks and lines that the lovers exchange. Barbara and Hrithik take care of the rest. As said earlier Hrithik carves out a charted course for his character. He is in exceptional shape every which way. Barbara looks somewhat more mature than Hrithik in some scenes. But her vivacity and natural ability to grasp the essence of human bonding makes us forget the age factor.
Shot in the most eye-catching casinos of Las Vegas and the toasted-brown deserts of Mexico Kites is a minor feast for the senses. Yes it has its over-cute annoying interactive moments. But these pass quickly. And we are left with a feeling of having witnessed an exhilarating excursion into a terrain where the heart meets an intersection and swerves dangerously into a self-destructive zone.
Love never seemed more dangerous or worth the risk. Go for it.