Tara Rum Pum – Bollywood takes on NASCAR

By Rohini Mohan
A rags to riches to rags to riches story full of clichés and homilies, Tara Rum Pum is the latest offering from Yash Raj films. Directed by Siddharth Anand of ‘Salaam Namaste’ fame, TRP is a pretty forgettable tale of a race car tire changer RV (Saif Khan) who becomes a champion race car driver, marries Radhika (Rani Mukherjee) and has two kids who, believe it or not, are christened Champ and Princess.

The dream family lives a dream life in a dream house but due to a major accident on the race track they are banished to a classic pokey New York one roomer in “cabbie alley”. The parents tell the kids that the whole “poverty” thing is not actually happening; it is part of a reality show to inspire them to “don’t worry and to be happy”. (an unhappy lift from ‘Life is beautiful’). What happens next is entirely predictable even to very young kids who have watched the Disney movie ‘Cars’.

The movie is set in New York (where else!) and photographs the city lovingly. The racing scenes, of which there are many, are shot with a fair amount of technical expertise. The child actors are cute and precocious as always and the whole movie is shot in a slick fairy tale mode which will appeal to the kids. For the adults it is a yawn inducing experience that insults their intelligence. But hey, we’ve put up with worse.

It is better not to examine the movie too closely. Radhika who is majoring in music is supposed to be of ‘superior intellect’ – according to her dad, and we know how parents exaggerate! That would probably explain how her intellect deserted her when her husband was whittling away the family’s savings. Also the ‘superior intellect’ does not prevent a real fashion accident with the wig she wears all through the first half.

RV seems to be on the same mental wavelength as his kids, since he gets away with every childish lie and indiscretion. Victor Banerjee appears in two scenes as Radhika’s disapproving dad, a totally irrelevant appendage to the storyline. There was a lot of restless movement in the audience during the songs – restroom and samosa/chai breaks and such which leads me to the logical conclusion that the music score is not going to do it for this movie either.

The one saving grace is Harry (Javed Jaffrey), or as his New York Cab vanity plate proclaims, “Guzu Bhai”. The role is markedly different from his desi cowboy act in ‘Salaam Namaste’ but he has the best lines in the movie. He gets the Gujju accent right and also shows a lot of depth in the serious moments. Rani and Saif breeze through their undemanding roles. After ‘Hum Tum’ and ‘Salaam Namaste’, Saif could probably do these Hugh Grantish roles in his sleep.
“An inconvenient truth” is the longest power point presentation, but this has got to be the longest commercial – 3 hours of promoting Chevrolet. And I do mean a full three hours. Oh, the unlimited scope for tighter editing! At intermission there was one little kid in our group who was convinced that one movie was over and the other one was about to start…

While on the subject of kids, here’s a tip if you plan to watch with kids at Naz8. Before you buy the ticket, be sure to check your kids’ height. Apparently (a la Disneyland) the definition of kid is not by age but by inches. I had to actually exchange my 10 year old’s ticket for an adult one!

If this was intended to be this year’s blockbuster, I definitely hope the other die-hards out there are less cynical than I am. I would recommend it if you have a lot of time on your hands, no access to baby-sitting and are anyway bored out of your skull. The kids will have a good time and you could always catch up on your email.  

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