Washington, Take a Bollywood movie, chop some scenes, add a few others, change the music, use some explosive sounds – and, hey presto, there is a slicker, racier more sexy Hollywood action potboiler. That’s what A-list Hollywood director Brett Ratner did to “Kites” that stars Hrithik Roshan and Mexican actress Barbara Mori.
It happened after Reliance BIG Pictures chairman Anil Ambani and co-producer Rakesh Roshan casually asked him over dinner what Ratner – creator of the spectacularly successful “Rush Hour” series – would do if he wanted to release “Kites” in the US.
“When I saw the movie I thought it was an Indian movie that would appeal to the Western style. A Bollywood movie and somewhat Western in its approach,” Ratner told IANS in an interview over the phone from Los Angeles.
So when they popped the question, he said: “Well, I would do this and this and this, I would shorten it, change the music. And they said, ‘can you do it for us?’ So I said okay if you want me to. So that’s how it happened.”
The film is being released in Hindi May 21 and in English May 28.
Ratner took his cue from local Chinese movies released in the US. “They change the music, they change the voices and make it somewhat different to make it appealing to an American audience.
“And that’s how I got the idea that this would introduce people that normally would not see a Bollywood movie to Bollywood cinema,” he said. “And I love films, I love foreign cinema.”
“For me it was just an experiment. It was fun for me. I didn’t do it to get rich. I did it out of friendship and I love filmmaking,” Ratner said, agreeing “they could not afford me as a director, may be.” But here “I acted more like a producer than a director”.
So how did he go about it? “No nothing was re-shot. I just cut the movie, and kept the story,” he said. “For instance, there was a great dance sequence in the movie, but it didn’t drive the story forward. So I lost it.”
“I was very nervous about losing it. But Hrithik was on board. When they saw my version they loved it.”
There was also some footage that “was more racy, more sexuality – stuff that would appeal to international audiences. But they just didn’t use it. When I was looking at the footage, I said, ‘wow, we have to put this in the movie.'”
Ratner was quite sure “Kites” would appeal to non-Indian viewers too. “Because when you have two stars, who are not typical stars, appearing together in a movie they would be kind of appealing to a different demographic.”
Hrithik and Barbara Mori are not “American movie stars. But they have an appeal and a chemistry that works. And that’s why I agreed to help. What they had together was appealing.”
Barbara has a big following in the Latina world and even in the US. And as such “Kites” will appeal specially to Latinas, Indians and people that normally would not go to see a Bollywood movie, Ratner said. “So I think it’s going to be great and that’s why I feel so proud to be part of it.”
Ratner thinks his version of “Kites” is as slick as a Hollywood movie. “The action scenes were spectacular. But the mix was very much Indian” and “very thin in the sound department”.
“What I did was I took pictures that were incredibly well done and I put sound that was so big – the explosions, the cars and the engines and background. I gave it a real Hollywood mix unlike Bollywood movies where voices are in the foreground.”
Hrithik, Ratner thinks, is “a great actor” who definitely has the potential to make the Hollywood crossover. “He definitely acted the way his persona is in his character. He is still very cool even though he is foreign. And he is in incredible shape and a great dancer.”
“And If I were to make a Hollywood movie with Hrithik, I would put him with an American star.”
Having turned a Bollywood film into a Hollywood film, would Ratner have any interest doing a Bollywood movie as a director?
“I would love it. If Reliance will offer me a movie that would appeal to international audiences. I would be interested in doing a Bollywood movie that had American stars that will possibly work not only in India but everywhere else. That will be a fun experiment for me.”
And what kind of movie would he choose?
“I would probably do a big Hollywood action movie. Maybe like a ‘Rush Hour 4′ – about two guys that are like fish out of water in different countries. So maybe I would do a movie like ‘Rush Hour’ in India. That will be fun.”