Friday, April 27, 2007

Ta Ra Rum Pum 

It takes nerve to borrow from an inimitable classic like Life is Beautiful, so Siddharth Anand has taken the car racing backdrop of Days of Thunder and the plot of Cinderella Man, added the tadka of good ol’ Bollywood melodrama and you have Ta Ra Rum Pum ready to be served.

Since producer (Yashraj) has the money, the film with its full on desi emotions is set in New York—makes not a whit of a difference to the story, except that it would perhaps take a US (read immoral) background for an Indian father to tell his daughter to have an affair with the guy she’s seeing, but marry someone better!

But the girl Radhika (Rani Mukerji) defies her father (Victor Banerjee) to marry up and coming car racer Rajveer or RV (Saif Ali Khan). You could lay a bet that there will be a scene when the father will offer the down on her luck daughter a cheque and she will tear it up—you are bound to win. You could also bet that the racer on a losing streak will come back when he needs money for his kid’s treatment, and you’d win again. Unpredictability is not one of this film’s strong points, though to be fair, there are some scenes that tug at the heart strings.

RV’s Gujarati manager Harry (Jaaved Jaaferi—doing a great Gujju accent) turns a lowly tire changer into a champion racer. At the same time RV meets, romances and marries Radhika. Wish the fast forward technique used to show that time passed and they had two kids could have been used to abbreviate the very routine and without-sparks romance. You’d also be spared the sorry sight of Rani in mini-skirts and most unbecoming fringe—she recovers when she gets into ‘normal’ mode.

Happy family picture is shattered when RV has an accident and loses his winning streak. Now you can’t ask a director bent on heavy duty melodrama, why Radhika who, you are told studies music, Elizabethan poetry, maths and foreign languages, suddenly becomes a dumb housewife, who neglects something as basic as insurance – and after her husband has had a horrific accident on the tracks. But then if people in films did sensible things, there would be no tear-jerkers made.

So the family suddenly becomes poor, moves to a slummy Indian area in New York, both RV and Radhika can’t find decent jobs. They tell the kids—in the most watchable part of the film-- that they are part of a reality show where they have to pretend to be poor. In Life is Beautiful, the kid doesn’t find out till the end that his father set up an elaborate charade, but here the kids do come to know and starve to pay their school fees—all of which has to culminate in the collapse of a kid and teeth-grittingly cheesy pre-climax sequences.

For those with a taste for old-fashioned family socials repackaged, the film has enough to offer—the performances are fine, the kids are sweet and not bratty, there are a couple of energetically choreographed dances, including the animation number; the racing scenes are sufficiently exciting. On the whole passable entertainment, though not rush-to-catch-it type.


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