For those eager to watch Hollywood filmmaker, Brett Ratner’s version of Rakesh Roshan’s recent release with son Hrithik opposite Mexican actor Barbara Mori, there’s good news. Kites – The Remix releases in India next month with more English dailogue and the run-time reduced by 20 minutes.
Producer Rakesh Roshan and director Anurag Basu refuse to reveal what Ratner has left behind on the editing table, but they claim that they’re extremely pleased with the final product.
“I like it as much as our version that is currently running in the cinemas across India,” says Roshan. “We’re planning to release Brett’s Kites – The Remix either on June 7 or June 11. The date is yet to be finalised.
It releases this weekend in the US and the UK” Roshan also reveals that Ratner’s version will have more subtitles since there’s more dialogue in English. Roshan and Basu are optimistic about the business Ratner’s cut will do. Basu feels that the audience that has seen the film abroad will be keen to see Ratner’s version too.
“Considering the business Kites is doing abroad, I’m positive about Brett’s cut. As for India, people who have liked Kites will be curious to see Brett’s remix version. And those who haven’t seen the film yet, will surely want to see a Hollywood director’s version of a Bollywood film,” asserts Basu.
Basu admits that Kites – The Remix is faster and crisper than his version. “Brett has reduced the runtime by 20 minutes, keeping the soul of the film intact. I wouldn’t have been able to edit the film any further. I would have died at the thought of cutting 20 minutes from Kites. I would obviously have felt that the film would suffer,” he says.
‘The drop in collections was anticipated’
What’s your reaction to the response that Kites has received?
Rakesh Roshan: The response is great in big centres and not very encouraging in the small centres. Globally, the film has made a lot of noise. The reviews in the Western press are positive. Ditto the audience response from the commercial perspective. We wanted to take our industry a step forward, create more awareness about Bollwood in the west, which I think we have achieved. So, I’m quite satisfied.
Anurag Basu: My reaction is as mixed as the audience’s. I’m pleased with praise, and obviously not pleased with the negative and undue criticism. The word of mouth has worked on extremes: it’s either too positive or too negative.
Would you agree that you made the film, largely keeping the overseas audience in mind?
RR: Not at all. The intention was to increase the audience base with a wider release. I agree there are certain films that are targeted at the NRIs apart from resident Indians. My question is; why not other markets? Kites was sold to 30-35 countries. It’s an achievement because it’s not something that too many films can boast about. I can say that our first step towards making Indian cinema global was in the right direction.
AB: We were expecting mixed reactions because Kites was different. We’re happy with the response overseas because it met our expectations. Hrithik (Roshan) is being lauded.
Although it opened very well, the collections slipped steeply on Monday. Are you apprehensive, since it’s a huge monetary investment?
RR: Anything can happen at the box-office. I can only push the film till it opens on Day One. After that, the audience decides whether the film will move up or down. I’m not a magician who can fill theatres and run my film into packed houses.
AB: The drop was anticipated. The opening figures were a good sign of relief, but the investment is huge in comparison. So, I agree that Kites has to work through two more weekends. I’ve never been more tense about my film’s collections because I’ve always made films on comparatively smaller budgets.
Some centres have shows starting as early as 6:30 am. Do you feel it will help sustain the collections?
RR: The first three days have definitely been good. The film has earned approximately Rs 65 crore worldwide. I’m good with that.
AB: I can’t speak on the business side of it. Programming and pricing are best dealt with by the producer and distributors.
Reportedly, the investment runs into Rs 100 crore and over.
RR: That is incorrect. Whatever the budget is, I know I’m not heading towards a financial loss. Anyway, we just have the records for the first five days. So, it’s too early to say what kind of business the film will eventually do.
AB: I’m optimistic. When Gangster had a poor opening, though it was a small-budget project, Mukeshji (Bhatt) and I were depressed. When it picked up later, we were thrilled. So, I’m just keeping my toes and fingers crossed that more and more people go to multiplexes and watch Kites.
The audience has been complaining about the excessive use of English and Spanish. Even the subtitles don’t seem to work.
Rakesh Roshan: English language news channels are growing in number. English is actually a common language used everywhere from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. We’re changing with the times. I don’t think Kites was incomprehendable.
Anurag Basu: And how can you expect me to push for more Hindi dialogue in the film? It was natural for Hrithik and Barbara to communicate in English. And that was basic English. Hindi would have made their conversation look artificial. We were trying to keep it believable. That’s what clicks with the audience.
Reportedly, because of the language and subtitles, distributors in Karnataka, Bihar and Bengal are not optimistic about the film’s business.
RR: I have no clue about this.
AB: People are not used to seeing subtitles in Bollywood films. You actually don’t need subtitles here. Hrithik doesn’t know Spanish, and Barbara knows a bit of English. I didn’t want the audience to understand Spanish.
Kites, it’s said, was Hrithik Roshan’s launch-pad to Hollywood.
RR: I don’t think so. Hrithik has been offered six-seven Hollywood films, but he’ll only do a film if he likes the subject. He’s not looking at a crossover. He’s happy in Bollywood.
Most of the Indian reviews have panned the film in several ways. Comment.
RR: Yeah, but I can’t eliminate the positive reviews for my film. It all depends on who’s reviewing Kites. In a democracy, everyone is entitled to voice their opinion on anything they feel like.
AB: I’m very overwhelmed by the unanimous positive reviews in the Western media. But praise and acclaim at home certainly brings more joy. I respect the critics. I’m trying not to be affected by the bad reviews.
RR: We’ve already explored India heavily in the past. Mumbai and Delhi are our biggest terri-tories. We’ve explored the NRI audience before. The step forward was to reach out to the global audience. But while we try to tap other countries as prospective markets, we cannot forget our own audience.
A particular review in the West said that Kites becomes a kind of a parody later on. Comment.
RR: I haven’t seen those reviews yet. I’ve been busy with the film’s post-release promotion. Brett Ratner’s cut releases abroad on May 28. So I don’t have the time to read up on them.
AB: A lot of reviews were fowarded to me. I hadn’t anticipated this. I do exactly what the scene demands when I’m shooting with the artistes. My approach is more emotional than tech-savvy. Rakeshji didn’t complain that I wasn’t too planned. I think the story demanded the kind of execution we have given it. Sometimes, there was no camera movement, it was just Hrithik and Barbara (Mori) talking.
A couple of critics pointed out that there wasn’t great chemistry between Hrithik and Barbara. Would you say that their ‘reported’ link-up had raised hiked expectations?
RR: The link-up was media-created and not a publicity stunt from our end. Critics had their own perception. They could be right or wrong.
AB: I fail to understand how people scrutinise this. All the reviews abroad and quite a few here have talked highly about their on-screen chemistry. I don’t know why did a couple of the critics feel otherwise. The pace of the film is also a debated subject. It was felt that the story, despite a flashback-present treatment, wasn’t progressing speedily.
RR: Once again, it’s a matter of perception and I don’t have any grudges against anyone. But I will not dissect my film. I loved it. I’m not making any comment against any review anywhere. If you ask honestly, all my films, from Khudgarz to Krrish, have got bad reviews. I would have been very surprised if Kites had opened to raving reviews across the board.
AB: It’s not the first time I’ve made a film with similar treatment. In Gangster, for instance, the story moved into the present and past way too often. Even Murder jumped from one sequence to another. But I think Kites was a lot more controlled.