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'Kites' movie brings together 'Rush Hour' director and Bollywood

An Indian film company hopes to market the 'Kites' movie to American audiences by bringing together a beautiful Mexican actress, Bollywood's biggest hunk, and the director of 'Rush Hour.'

By Taylor BarnesCorrespondent / May 21, 2010

Actors Hrithik Roshan, right, and Barbara Mori, left, pose for the photographers as they arrive for the European film premiere of the film 'Kites', in London, Tuesday.

Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

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Mumbai, India

What brings together a beautiful Mexican actress, India's premier silver-screen hunk, and the director of "Rush Hour"?

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Bollywood's most serious bid yet to show it's not just Hollywood that can export films.

India's Reliance Big Pictures today debuts "Kites," a 130-minute story about two lovers on the run who don't speak the same language.

Director Brett Ratner of "Rush Hour" movie fame has edited that original Hindi-language version by dubbing it into English, toning down the soundtrack, removing a dance sequence by the critically acclaimed Indian lead, Hrithik Roshan, and adding a racy scene. Mr. Ratner's 90-minute "Kites: The Remix" premieres in US and international theaters May 28.

"I think this is going to be some sort of a breakthrough ... a first milestone," says Reliance MediaWorks CEO Anil Arjun, explaining that "Kites" is the first time Bollywood has so thoroughly edited a film to appeal to Western viewers.

Bollywood goes international

It's an attempt to capitalize on recent successes that Reliance has seen. Its film "My Name is Khan" grossed $39 million worldwide for a month after its February release, including $17 million outside of India, according to Agence France-Presse. Reliance's film "3 Idiots," which came out on Christmas Day, grossed $6.7 million alone in North America – a record for a Bollywood film, the company says.

Further showing its seriousness about entering the American market, Reliance recently purchased nearly 200 movie theaters across the US – of 525 theaters is owns worldwide – that show both Hollywood and Bollywood films.

But while last year's Oscar-winner "Slumdog Millionaire" stoked optimism that Indian films can find a place with global audiences, not every movie strikes Western fancies: 2009's "Chandni Chowk to China," also an attempted hybrid US-India release, tanked.

Mature movie markets, most notably Hollywood, have long figured out the formula to capitalize on a film in as many countries as possible, says John Lee, dean of the Mumbai-based Whistling Woods International Institute for Film, Television, Animation and Media Arts, and author of "The Producer's Handbook."

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