Tag Archives: Kites

Worst Bollywood Movies of 2010

2010’s worst Hindi movies are all bad, but one film is much, much worse than the rest. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)

Lahore, Dulha Mil Gaya and Pyaar Impossible make the list for ignoring some basic rules of plot development.

The most common problem among 2010’s worst movies is unlikable main characters. Tum Milo Toh Sahi and Veer also suffer from subtitling problems, while others — Action Replayy, Milenge Milenge, Teen Patti and No Problem — are little more than Hollywood knock-offs.

Kites gets an honorable mention for the conduct of its producers, including swiping a song from Lord of the Rings without crediting the original artist, and for not paying its supporting actors.

But the worst movie of the year — possibly the worst movie I’ve ever seen — is Khatta Meetha. The characters in Khatta Meetha aren’t merely unlikable; they’re morally reprehensible. And Khatta Meetha is a comedy.

A comedy can’t work if its hero is almost as bad as the villain. Khatta Meetha‘s hero, Sachin (Akshay Kumar), punches his girlfriend out of anger and, years later, harasses her to the point that she attempts suicide. There’s nothing heroic about Sachin. He’s a scumbag and an abuser. Yet the filmmakers expect the audience to see him as the charming underdog.

In the worst sequence of the movie, the villain, Sanjay (Jaideep Ahlawat), conceives of a plan to get Sachin to confront him. How is this accomplished? Sanjay and his friends gang rape Sachin’s sister and kill her.

Let me emphasize this: she’s not just attacked. She’s raped. Gang raped. And murdered. In a slapstick comedy.

How can an audience laugh after witnessing something so awful? I sure couldn’t.

A more understandable way to incite Sachin to avenge his sister — without putting off the audience completely — would have been for her to show up with a black eye, courtesy of Sanjay — provoking Sachin to beat the tar out of the villain. But that wouldn’t work in Khatta Meetha, because Sachin himself had already punched a woman in the face. This forced the writers to concoct something so unspeakably awful that even Sachin himself cannot abide it.

Is that the low standard we’re forced to accept from our comedic heroes? That their goodness is defined by their unwillingness to commit gang rape and murder?

The only reason to see Khatta Meetha is if you plan on writing a comedy and want to know exactly what not to do. Sarcastic congratulations to the creators of Khatta Meetha for making not only the Worst Bollywood Movie of 2010, but the worst movie I’ve ever paid to watch.

Previous Worst Movies Lists

In Theaters June 11, 2010

Political drama Raajneeti is one of two Hindi movies showing in the Chicago area the weekend beginning Friday, June 11, 2010. It continues for a second week at the AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC Randhurst 16 in Mount Prospect, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville.

Kites gets a fourth week at the Golf Glen 5, which is also showing Singam (Tamil) and Vedam (Telugu).

Bollywood Box Office: June 4-6, 2010

Here are the box office figures for Hindi movies playing in the United States the weekend of June 4-6, 2010, courtesy of Box Office Mojo:

Raajneeti debuted in 11th place, earning $850,244 from 124 screens.

Kites fell to 44th place in its third week, earning $47,722 from 58 screens. Its total U.S. earnings are $1,602,466.

In its second week, Kites: The Remix earned just $1,546 from five screens. That brings its total U.S. earnings to $40,924. It’s not much, but it may cover some of the wages still owed to the American actors for their work on the film.

Opening June 4: Raajneeti

This weekend’s new Hindi release is the political drama Raajneeti. Its ensemble cast includes Ajay Devgan, Katrina Kaif, Ranbir Kapoor and Arjun Rampal.

In the Chicago area, Raajneeti is showing at the AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago, AMC Randhurst 16 in Mount Prospect, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville. The movie has an official runtime of 2 hrs. 58 min.

Kites, having earned $1,554,744 in the U.S. so far, carries over for a third week at the Pipers Alley 4, Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30 and Cantera 30.

Kites: The Remix earned $24,869 in its opening weekend at 40 U.S. theaters — a per screen average of just $622.

Other Indian films showing in the Chicago area the weekend beginning June 4, 2010 include Singam (Tamil) and Vedam (Telugu) at the Golf Glen 5. Singam is also showing at Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove.

Kites Producers Didn’t Pay American Actors

The producers of Kites have a lot of explaining to do. First, the composer swiped a song from Lord of the Rings. Now it’s been revealed that the producers failed to pay some of the American actors that worked on the film.

Steven Michael Quezada, best known for his role as Gomez on AMC’s Breaking Bad, plays a cop in Kites. His character, listed in the credits as “Cop,” has a crucial speaking role in a shootout sequence in a Wild West-type motel.

Quezada posted at IMDb in February (under the screen name “smqgomez505”) that he had not been paid for a week’s worth of work on Kites. I spoke to Quezada earlier this week about his experience making the movie.

According to Quezada, conditions on the set of Kites were unusual. The only trailers were reserved for stars Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori, meaning that actors with smaller roles had to change into costume in a restroom. “They didn’t even have chairs for the actors.”

Screen Actors Guild contracts specify that actors must be paid for their work within five days. Quezada waited two weeks before calling the production office to ask why he hadn’t received his check.

“It was weird because, every show that I’m on, when you call the production office, somebody answers — especially when they’re in production. I would get an answering machine. I continued to leave messages. I started thinking this is a really shady deal.”

Quezada called SAG, which in turn forbade members from further work on Kites until the producers paid the actors what was already owed. At that point, the production moved elsewhere, possibly shooting the rest of the movie in Mexico. “All I know is they packed up and disappeared, but they finished the movie.”

Quezada knows of at least two other actors who haven’t received any payment for their work, and one who received half of what he’s owed. “It’s not even a whole lot of money, if you look at how much they spent.” The budget for Kites is estimated to be 60 crore rupees (approximately $13 million), a record for a Hindi movie.

Quezada hopes that going public with his grievance will force the producers of Kites to pay him for his work, even if the check is two years late. “I think I need to stand up for actors out here in New Mexico. Just because we’re not living in L.A. doesn’t mean we’re not professionals.

“I’m not greedy. I’m just a hard-working actor just trying to feed my family. I just want that paycheck. That’s it.”

Update: I just noticed a story that union crew members in California sued Kites producer Rakesh Roshan for failure to pay wages. I hope Roshan uses some of the movie’s profits to honor his promises to American workers.

In Theaters May 28, 2010

After a successful opening weekend, Kites is sticking around Chicago area theaters for a second week. But the shorter, English-language edit of the movie, Kites: The Remix, is nowhere to be found. Set to open on May 28, the reedited version was created to appeal to international audiences.

Seven of the nine Chicagoland theaters in which the original Hindi version of Kites opened last weekend are carrying the movie for a second week. None of them will carry Kites: The Remix — not even the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5, which is owned by Reliance, the company that produced Kites.

The theaters showing Kites for a second week are:

In its opening weekend in U.S. theaters, Kites earned $958,673 in the 208 theaters showing the film. While the overall total is good, the per screen average of $4,609 isn’t great. In December, 3 Idiots earned $1,645,502 on 119 screens its opening weekend for a per screen average of $13,828. My Name Is Khan‘s opening weekend in February earned the movie $2,264,983 from 120 screens, a per screen average of $18,875.

There are no other Hindi films playing in the Chicago area this weekend, but the Golf Glen 5 is showing Golimar (Telugu), Nayakan (Malayalam) and Singam (Tamil), which is also showing at Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove.

Kites Swipes Song from Lord of the Rings

I liked Kites a lot. But, a day later, I’m still so disappointed in one aspect of the film, it merits its own post.

A haunting, ethereal musical theme pervades much of the movie. The song is beautiful, and it augments the movie’s most emotional sequences. You can listen to a snippet of it here:

There’s only one problem. Kites composer Rajesh Roshan didn’t write it.

I don’t mean Roshan may have accidentally used a melody that he’d heard somewhere before. I mean he took an entire song, pretty much note for note, from another movie’s soundtrack.

As I wrote in my review of the film, “[t]he song is identical in melody, key, and instrumentation to ‘Aniron (Theme for Aragorn and Arwen),’ written by Enya for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.” However, Enya is not properly attributed as the composer anywhere in the film’s credits (source: IMDb).

Here’s a clip of the original song:

Maybe there’s not a lot of overlap between fans of Hindi films and fantasy geeks like me, and Roshan figured he wouldn’t get caught. Fellowship didn’t even make a million dollars during its run in India (source: Box Office Mojo). Or perhaps Roshan was just being brazen, and he didn’t care if anyone found out.

In either case, he can’t claim sole credit for Kites‘ music.

Update: I’ve heard that it may not be Roshan who’s responsible for appropriating Enya’s song. It may be Salim-Sulaiman, a pair of brothers who composed some of the background music for Kites.

Movie Review: Kites (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

The opening monologue of Kites explains that, while a kite looks free as it soars in the sky, there’s always someone back on earth holding the string. So it is with the two star-crossed lovers in this Hindi-English-Spanish action-romance.

Hrithik Roshan plays J, a part-time dance instructor living in Las Vegas. When he’s low on cash, he charges $1000 to serve as a temporary husband for women seeking American green cards.

J catches his big break when one of his dance students, Gina (Kangana Ranaut), falls in love with him. She’s desperate and socially awkward, but she’s also the daughter of a wealthy casino owner. J decides to date Gina for her money, and he’s welcomed into the family in time for Gina’s brother’s wedding.

The brother, Tony (Nicholas Brown), is a thug who likes to smack around his Mexican fiancée, Natasha (Barbara Mori). J recognizes Natasha as a former green card-seeking client. He married her when she was using her real name, Linda. She doesn’t speak English, but J determines that Natasha/Linda is also trying to marry into the family for money. The two exchange longing looks behind the backs of their respective partners.

The night before Natasha’s wedding to Tony, the abuse becomes too much for J to take. He and Natasha knock Tony out and flee to Mexico. As soon as Tony wakes up, he pursues them.

The story is told in a series of flashbacks, beginning with J tumbling, bleeding and unconscious, from a freight car. Critical plot points — such as how J wound up in the freight car — are shown through multiple flashbacks from different perspectives, with more information revealed each time. It’s done with great attention to continuity and makes for an interesting storytelling style.

Roshan and Mori are a perfect romantic duo. They make their gold-digging characters charming and relatable. They’re not motivated by greed, but by a desire to escape poverty. Their love story is moving, culminating in a beautiful scene to end the movie.

The car chase sequences are exciting and well-executed. Producer Rakesh Roshan (Hrithik’s father) clearly spent the money to make the action sequences look top-notch.

I have two main problems with Kites. Nicholas Brown, who plays Tony, seems to have been hired primarily for his ability to speak Spanish. His clunky, amateurish acting doesn’t measure up to the performances by Roshan and Mori.

In his defense, he isn’t given much to work with. Most of Tony’s dialogue consists of restating the same thing in different ways: “Where is he? You said he would be here, and he’s not here. The room is empty. Where is he?” It would be hard for any actor to sell such filler material.

What bothered me most about Kites is a problem of apparent intellectual property theft. The score, attributed to composer Rajesh Roshan (Rakesh’s brother and Hrithik’s uncle), is dominated by J & Natasha’s love theme — a song not included on the official soundtrack. The song is identical in melody, key, and instrumentation to “Aniron (Theme for Aragorn and Arwen),” written by Enya for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The only difference is that the Kites song isn’t sung in Elvish. Click the links below to compare for yourself:

Kites Love Theme, (allegedly) by Rajesh Roshan

Aniron, by Enya


Opening May 21: Kites

There’s one new Hindi movie opening in the Chicago area this weekend, and it’s a big one. Hrithik Roshan stars in Kites as a man on the run with his beloved (Barbara Mori), a journey that takes them from Las Vegas to Mexico. The original Hindi version of the movie opens this weekend, with a shorter English version called Kites: The Remix opening on May 28.

Kites opens on Friday, May 21 at nine theaters in the Chicago area (click here for a list of all U.S. theaters showing Kites):

It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 10 min.

Two other Bollywood films — Housefull and Badmaash Company — extend their engagements for another week at the South Barrington 30 and Cantera 30.

The other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend are all in Telugu. Andari Bandhuvaya and Rama Rama Krishna Krishna are showing at the Golf Glen 5, and Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove has Darling and Simha.