How did you land the gig for Kites: The Remix?
By accident. I was having dinner with Hrithik Roshan and he asked if I’d like to see his new movie. I said yeah, great. After I saw it I was asked what I’d do if I were to release it in the US. I said I’d make it shorter, I’d take out the dancing and I’d change the music. And he said, would you do that for us?
Why did you say yes?
I thought it would be fun. I remembered that in the ’90s, there were these Hong Kong movies that Jackie Chan was in and re-dubbing them introduced these movies to a whole new audience. They’re what inspired me to make Rush Hour. So I thought, wow, if I could do a Bollywood movie and Westernise it slightly, then people might see it that would never have seen a Bollywood movie.
What needed changing to appeal to a Western cinema audience?
Bollywood movies often have a multitude of genres in one film – they might go from someone attempting suicide to a dance scene. That would throw an audience internationally, so you have to streamline the story. I focused on the part of the story which I thought had the most appeal, and that’s the romance. So I simplified the film and focused on that.
You changed the music, too.
I rescored the entire movie because in Bollywood it goes over the top a little bit. Bollywood tends to go into melodrama and I tried to pull that back, not just in the editing but in the music as well, because music drives the feeling. But I kept the original intention of the filmmakers.
So without the dancing and the music and the melodrama, is Kites: The Remix still Bollywood?
I think it’s still a Bollywood movie. I think people who are fanatical about Bollywood will like the original version much better, but people who like Western films will be attracted to this film. For second and third generation Indians, I would describe it as ‘not your father’s Bollywood movie’!
Do you think Kites: The Remix will pave the way for more Hollywood-Bollywood collaborations?
I think what Hollywood is recognising is that there is a huge audience out there. Movies like 3 Idiots and My Name is Khan took, like, US$6bn at the US box office. Whether it’s me or someone else, I think Hollywood will take an Indian star and put him in an American movie [soon].
Do you think Hrithik could make it in Hollywood?
He’s definitely an appealing, handsome guy. You put him in a movie with Brad Pitt and it would be very cool.
So why would you encourage people to go and see Kites: The Remix?
There’s a great love story and the action is fantastic. It’s an entertaining piece of business. It goes into melodrama a little bit but it’s a fun movie. And you’re looking at two of the most beautiful people on Earth [Laughs].
Finally, what are you working on next?
I’m doing a big heist movie, which I’m talking to Ben Stiller about starring in and hopefully will start shooting this autumn. It’s in the vein of a ’70s heist movie. I just love the heist movies of the ’70s. They really don’t make any movies like that anymore, where the comedy comes from the characters and their situations. You know, there’s been some farcical heist movies and there’s been some great dramatic heist movies, but nothing really character-driven. And it’s going to be an ensemble, which is a lot of fun.
Kites: The Remix is in cinemas now