Entertainment & Arts

Bollywood film remixed for Hollywood

Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori in Kites
Image caption Barbara Mori and Hrithik Roshan play ill-fated lovers

"The first thing to go - which I was the most scared to take out - was the dancing stuff."

Hollywood director Brett Ratner is describing how he took the 130-minute Bollywood film Kites and cut it down to a 90-minute version pitched at a wider international audience, entitled Kites: The Remix.

It's the first time a Bollywood film has been re-edited with a North American or European market in mind.

"There wasn't a strategy, I wasn't saying this has to be 90 minutes," says Ratner, better known for his Rush Hour movies and X-Men sequel than he is for his love of Indian cinema.

It was Ratner's Rush Hour (1998) that elevated Asian martial arts star Jackie Chan into the Hollywood blockbuster league.

Dodging bullets

Image caption Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan will reach a new audience

Kites: The Remix is out on Friday, a week after the release of the original which retains the romantic interludes and dance set-pieces.

Directed by Anurag Basu, and starring Hrithik Roshan, the film is not a standard Bollywood production. It was shot extensively in Las Vegas and Santa Fe, and Mexico, and is largely in English and Spanish.

And the lead actress in this story of star-crossed lovers is Mexican Barbara Mori, making her Indian cinema debut.

Mori and Roshan - both of them impossibly attractive - spend much of the film smouldering at each other in various states of undress.

That's when they aren't robbing banks and dodging bullets.

"I knew what I had to keep intact was the love story," says Ratner. "I didn't want to change the heart of the film, the chemistry, I just wanted to simplify it make it something that was shorter.

"American audiences have the worst attention-deficit disorder - especially myself - and they want something that's fast-paced."

Which is why Ratner tweaked the soundtrack, adding extra bang to the action sequences - and decided to take out the big dance number.

'Best dancers'

Image caption The elaborate dance sequences were largely cut from the remix

"You don't know how many times I put it in, took it out, put it in - cut it down, made it shorter," says Ratner, looking at Roshan seated next to him.

"I was so nervous. This guy is one of the best dancers - he's like John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever."

Roshan says graciously: "I didn't miss anything. Which I think is proof enough that what you did is true to the heart of the film."

But what will Bollywood audiences make of this tinkering with the formula?

Roshan: "I wouldn't waste my time trying to analyse it - every piece of creative work is something that finds its own audience.

"What Brett's done is he's interpreted our film with a certain western mindset. The heart of the story is intact."

Next level

Image caption Hrithik Roshan made his Bollywood debut in 2000

Roshan is no stranger to pioneering cinema. He starred in India's first science fiction film Koi... Mil Gaya (2003) which was produced by his father Rakesh Roshan (who also produced Kites).

But Ratner thinks the Bollywood remix idea "could be a one-off".

"The next level is to make a movie that works even more internationally - taking a guy like Hrithik and a big American star and putting them together in one version that works everywhere in the world.

"It's a natural process that's happening. There might be some copycats. But these guys have always been ahead of the curve - they made a science fiction movie when no-one believed a science fiction movie could work in Bollywood...

"What I'm excited about is that it really introduces Bollywood films to an audience that normally would never see a movie like this."

Kites: The Remix opens across the UK on Friday 28 May

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