Tag Archives: Rakesh Roshan

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.

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

Links