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Film Review - Ta Ra Rum Pum

Simran Thadani
05/02/2007

Ta Ra Rum Pum 

Director: Siddharth Anand

Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukerji, Jaaved Jaffrey

Music: Vishal-Shekhar

For a Yash Raj Films production, this film got surprisingly little pre-release fanfare (I first saw the previews for it only a couple of weeks before the film came out, and there wasn’t much buzz about it in the papers or on TV). Yet I was excited enough about its potential – a reputed production house, Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukerji on screen together after Hum Tum (2004), the director of Salaam Namaste (2005) at work again, and cutting-edge computer-generated animation – to rush to the cinema on day one.

I was evidently a bit too eager.

Certainly the graphically-enhanced scenes are worth a round of applause; Tata Elxsi, the visual effects company which was also responsible for some of the effects in 2006’s blockbusters Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna and Dhoom: 2, among others, clearly had a field day working on this film! The protagonists’ two kids, played by Angelina Idnani and Ali Haji, do a fine job for debutants. Several of Vishal-Shekhar’s songs are hum-worthy, although none have the originality and sheen of the duo’s soundtracks for Bluffmaster (2005) or Salaam Namaste. The costuming is well-executed, as are the locales. And the mere sight of New York’s Times Square entirely devoid of people during a song sequence is impressive – how did the crew manage that!?

But, all said and done, Saif and Rani are merely adequate in their respective roles as RV, the extravagant and egotistical racing car driver, and Radhika, the careful pianist who forsakes her relationship with her worried (and well-off) father for the sake of love. The story goes that RV lives for today, dropping out of school and frivolously spending his earnings on a lavish lifestyle, while reassuring a surprisingly-compliant Radhika that they can figure things out as they go. Needless to say, these lifestyle choices – coupled with a disaster on the racetrack – spell trouble for the couple…

Unfortunately, RV and Radhika’s characters are poorly crafted, and it is instead RV’s manager, loyal Harry (Jaffrey), who is the most fully fleshed-out personality in the film, trustingly relinquishing control of his vanity-license-plated yellow cab to RV, fighting his boss to allow RV onto the Speeding Saddles racing team, even admitting that he needs his job because he is responsible for three unmarried sisters.

That apart, right through the film, one is left clutching at straws to find any strength in the script as a whole, and in various scenes in particular. How does RV, who accidentally breaks Radhika’s iPod in the first scene and thereby sparks her anger, somehow manage to win her heart over the course of a single song and a few comic relief sequences? Where does he get $55,000 for a Tiffany’s diamond ring? What would lead Radhika to give up pursuing her degree and her piano performances, and become a puppet-like trackside cheerleader for her bratty husband? Why would any good Indian couple name their children “Princess” and “Champ”? How can anyone, let alone a family of four plus their dog, live anywhere in New York on a sum total of $2,000? What happened to Radhika’s omnipresent best friend after the first twenty minutes of the film? And why, oh why, does Harry’s Gujarati accent – not at all authentic to begin with – keep disappearing and reappearing?

Given these obvious problems with the creation and presentation of the film, it is not worth discussing bigger issues like why “poor” is such a bad word that it needs to become a reality show concept for the children, or why the racing animosity between RV and Rusty turns into a battleground for issues of another “race” (colour and ethnicity), or even what the title means. The film was obviously not meant to be an intellectual stimulus. Rather, Ta Ra Rum Pum makes for a good two-and-a-half-hour diversion for you and your kids in the heat of the summer.

If you’d rather wait to rent the DVD, though, I don’t blame you. After this disappointment, I for one won’t be “racing” to watch the next Yash Raj film that releases in theatres!

 

Movie buff and freelancer Simran Thadani, 24, hails from Bombay, India. She graduated from Wellesley College in 2005, and will begin a Ph.D. program at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall.



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