Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tara Rum Pum Pum - Review

By Subhash K Jha

Starring Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Ali Haji, Angelina Idnani, Jaaved Jaffri
Directed by Siddharth Anand

Now we know why the director is named Anand. Hrishikesh Mukherjee meets Walt Disney in this utterly heartwarming take on life's most serious and cruel jokes.

There's a moment in Anand's film where Rani plays that clichéd sequence where the hero's fallen-on-hard-times wife rejects a fat cheque from her rich father.

"I did the right thing, didn't I?" Rani asks her screen-hubby Saif, who looks aghast. "You turned down a cheque for 50,000 dollars? For that sum of money I'm ready to be compromised every day."

The above sequence is a strangely subverted interpretation of that sequence from Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Satyakam where Dharmendra's idealism was weighed against Sharmila Tagore's ability to ward off temptations.

Tara Rum Pum is like a romp through the highest emotional summts of life's lowest blows. Cleverly Anand situates this rags-to-riches drama of a a spendthrift car racer, his cautious and principled wife and his two adorable kids (Sooraj Barjatya, roll over) in New York where the economically challenged family moves from up-market Manhattan to downtown Queens.

Cinematographer Binod Pradhan captures the underbelly of New York and the empty belly of racing-driver RV's family in a restrained rush of emotional adrenaline.

Anand, God bless his unfettered soul, mixes the business of an absorbing riches-to-rags tale with tons of hyphenated homilies.

In the true Walt Disney tradition, the family makes the best of its challenged morality when it falls on hard times.

There're moments, like the one where Saif's hungry little boy (Ali Haji, delightfully natural) devours a half-eaten burger retrieved from a trash can, where eyes turn to collective moistness.

You can't fault the director for pumping up the tears. Commercial cinema is all about the pleasure you derive in bringing the fundemental emotions of love and life together in a clasp of a giggle and a gasp.

Tara Rum Pum makes you do just that. Anand's screenplay is original from far. Get closer, and you see scenes from Days Of Thunder and a whole chunk from the Russell Crowe boxing film Cinderella Man brought to us in vibrant colours.

Saif, I'd like to believe, is a better actor than Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe. He invests the role of the roguish rugged dare-devilish and impetuous Fallen Hero with pathos and parody.

Watch him in the scene where he tricks his little daughter into staying back in their new run-down home as part of an imaginary reality show (it's a long story….let's just say Siddharth Anand knows Life Is Beautifu and not just for Robert Benigni ). Saif invests even the minutest moment with a tapestried irony.

It helps to have Rani Mukherjee as a co-star. Though her make-up and clothes are all wrong in the first- half, Rani brings a thehrao and a emotional resonance to her supportive wife's part in the second-half where she has to stand by a man who has lost his heroic sheen and is a bit of an embarrassment to the mirror.

Javed Jaffri replicates the role of the star-manager from dozens of Hollywood films. Though his penchant for doing accents (this time Gujarati) is admirable, he doesn't quite blend with the fabric of fertile feelings that irrigate Anand's joyous ride into the raga of richness.

Oh yes the performing stalwart Victor Bannerjee is outstanding…. That is to say, he stands out of the script trying to give a semblance of originality to the role of the heroine's rich snobbish father done by everyone from Madan Puri in Avtar to Sharad Saxena in Pyar Ke Side Effects.

The huggable inspirational tale is buoyed by a bewildering array of songs and dances (including an item where the protagonists dance with animation figures) all choreographed to spotlight the sheer lightness of being a happy family undergoing distressing times.

The initial fifteen minutes could have been more inspired, though. The first 'rave' number replete with hose- pipes going off in the middle of the night, serve as a reminder of how trendy the traditional Family Saga purports to become in present times.

Nothing, not even the tepid songs (Vishal-Shekhar, what were you thinking?) can take away from the sheer weightlessness of the narrative as it moves through several superbly written scenes….take the one at the family dinner where Saif and Rani pretend to be satiated so as the kids could eat properly.

And that one shot where Daughter, Son and Dog stand staring longingly at a confectionary stall, make you wish all your cynicism would dissolve.

Feel-good cinema, anyone? When was the last time you felt so good watching a mainstream Hindi film? Replicating the current international trend towards making films that stress family values (Mira Nair's The Namesake, Gabriel Muccino's The Pursuit Of Happyness) Siddharth Anand gives us a slick slice-of-life served up in courses that go from khushi to gham while your heart goes…tara rum pum pum!

A 'moist' see family film.

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