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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