Kites might soar overseas, unlikely in non-metro India

May 21st, 2010

There are huge expectations from Kites, the industry expects it to soar high enough to mitigate the losses it has booked due to the string of duds since the beginning of this year. There is huge money riding on it as Reliance Big Pictures is reported to have bought the distribution rights of the film for over Rs 100 crore. The film has the country’s most handsome man (arguably) and one of the most stunning (unarguably) Latin beauties paired against each other. Will it rise up to the occasion?

Before giving my verdict on the film let me tell you a few things. Kites is not a Hindi film. It is not a film by Rakesh Roshan with humongous doses of drama. Kites is director Anurag Basu’s attempt to tell the world that the modern Indian film-maker can adhere to Western standards and do without the song-dance sequences. (NB: I strongly feel that dance, Bollywood style, is our USP and we should not shy away from it.)

Kites is a English-Spanish film which obviously does not target the non-English speaking India. Rather it focuses on the audiences outside of India and they could be of any nationality, not necessarily the NRIs and the diaspora. It makes one feel like asking that while Hollywood is aggressively looking at newer markets like India and China why are our big film-makers grossly ignoring the domestic market?

The answer perhaps lies in basic economics. According to a Pricewaterhouse Coopers report, the average theatre ticket price in the US is $6 (Rs 270) while it is around one-tenth of that at Rs 25 in India. In other European markets like the UK and the Germany it is around $8 (Rs 360). After Karan Johar’s My Name Is Khan went to 40 countries, Kites is expected to follow suit. (NB: It is disappointing that economics has taken so much over creativity and that too in the name of universal theme; guess 3idiots had a universal theme too.)

A visible change that has happened in the DNA of film-makers wanting to pluck the low-hanging fruits in the overseas markets is their reluctance to have song and dance sequences. While songs are being relegated to the background, the dance has become western. How we would have loved to see Hrithik lip-synch Rajesh Roshan’s melodies and shake a leg in Hindi-film style instead of cart-wheeling in a Western dance competition in the film.

Kites is a love story and the visuals of the film are mind-blowing, the storyline doesn’t digress and the film maintains its pace which is average. Hrithik’s international looks are well used and the way his close-ups are filmed it feels like the film is an “entry fee” Senior Roshan has paid for a new career for his son in Hollywood. Basu is a great student of his craft and in places the lighting looks similar to Wong Kar Wai’s classic technique and the scene when Hrithik eliminates his enemies resembles to Tom Hanks’ Road to Perdition.

The film might make money, it might also turn out to be a hit but this kite is more likely to soar outside India. After a brilliant film like Life in a Metro, it was expected of Basu to not just limit himself to the multiplex and the metro audiences.

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Badmaa$h has some cheeky gyaan on cash

May 13th, 2010

The dollar in the title doesn’t give away much except that it is another tale of greed and the youth’s desire to get rich quick. But the latest offering from the YRF stable has that and some more. In fact, Badmaash Company chronicles, within the limits of a Bollywood commercial potboiler, the Indian economy post liberalisation of early 1990s with some credence.

You get to know that the movie will give you some gyaan on the economy when you see the headline, Reform and Liberalisation, fit for an edit piece and in font size bigger than the masthead, on the front page of country’s most read English daily.

The film is set in the ‘Bombay’ of 1994 and the plot delves into the kind of unscrupulous techniques people could employ to make money. Extremely high import duty on things like shoes gives the characters in the film an opportunity to find ways to make gains through dubious means.

This is one film from the YRF stable with a good storyline and the moves made by the characters meet with a logical conclusion.

The film moves from talking about a liberalised world to hinting at the asset bubble in the US and in a too simplistic manner shows how people made money by borrowing from too-keen-to-lend banks.

However, at the end of the movie where the director wants to convey that good should triumph over evil and honesty is the best policy, there is a major lapse.

The protagonist says that he would now make money only by “seedhaa” ways but participates in insider trading and even walks away unscathed by the SEC. Looks like the US market regulator in the 90s was as lax as its Indian counterpart.

I went to watch the movie after having read different opinions of critics ranging from it being worth a 1 star to 4 star on their rating scales. Many of them said that it was a mishmash of Bunty Aur Bubbly and Rocket Singh—Salesman of the Year, both YRF films.

Though there are some similar nuances it would be unfair to compare the films.