Ta Ra Rum Pum (2007) starring Saif Ali Khan -n- Rani Mukerjee (or Mukerji if you feel like spelling it that way) is sort of NASCAR meets Bollywood. In my commitment to watch all Hindi movies available through my local library system, I forced myself to watch TRRP. I also forced myself to write about it in order to a.) warn you and b.) remove the yolk of this movie from my mind. So let’s begin! Chalo dosto! I’m not sure if you’ve figured this out yet, but in case you haven’t, I’ll let you in on a little secret: some, okay, most every Bollywood films have two mismatched people who are thrown together. TRRP is one such tale. It’s the story of a guy and a gal from two different worlds: one is poor, one is rich; one is very honest and plans everything, the other likes to bend the truth and is more fancy free; and one is a classically trained pianist, the other a race car driver. So different, yet love binds these two together. That’s Bollywood!
I don’t like my Bollywood set in the USA. I prefer India, and will accept New Zealand, Thailand, parts of Greece, Australia, Sri Lanka, and Mauritius, but I really don’t like the USA for a setting since I’m already here. Strike one! I’m not into auto racing. Strike 2! But what saves this movie from a strike out for me was the rather sick twists TRRP took, even more sick when you consider it’s mostly aimed at a kids’ audience. More on that later! Rani (Radhika Shekar Roy Banerjee Singh a.k.a. Shona), against her rich business tycoon father’s wishes marries Saif (Rajveer Singha.k.a RV ), a successful race car drive, who becomes increasingly successful in the first years of their marriage. They havea little girl and a little boy and they live in a fancy Frank Llyod Wright-esque home. Happy? Yes! But for how long? Not too long! Tragedy strikes and their happy family is challenged with super hard times after Saif/RV gets in a crash during a race.
Bummer! He’s not only suffers physically, but mentally too. How can he be a man if he can’t support his family? What is his worth? Saif tries to make his race car driver comeback but just keeps losing! The former star loses 10 races in a row. During these tough economic times it was fun to see commentary on frivolous spending, and the danger of spending beyond one’s means. Dad loses his job, the family goes into debt.
As a result they must leave their fancy Manhattan haveli and move to “cabbie row” which apparently was dangerous, since immediately upon arrival the kids witness a knife wielding robber barreling down the street. The parents have decided not to tell the kids that they’re now suddenly poor, but instead that they’re on a reality show called “Don’t Worry Be Happy” and that there are hidden cameras around. The parents lie to the kids and say if the fake show’s hidden cameras” see that they are seen frowning and not smiling they will lose the challenge, lose the lucrative prize and fame. How do they explain their new dangerous neighborhood with the robber and the knife, well it’s a toy knife and all part of the reality TV show. SMILE! No matter what, struggle, after struggle, you must smile.
At this point this make believe is sort of cute and acceptable since it’s done to protect the kids. Then they discover the apartment has no pani, I mean water, and the parents again cheer the kids up and have them swim in a fountain to bathe. Is this just a subtitling quirk, or do Indians really say “swimming costumes” instead of swimsuit?
For no reason there’s a scene with RV doing push ups. Why? Maybe to show that even in their new meager surroundings he’s still going to work out, despite not havig a treadmill and other fancy workout equipment.
In one of the film’s first sick twists, Saif/RV decides to give away the cherished family pet by setting it free in a park. This is supposed to save some money.
Saif/RV has to become a cabbie to earn money, despite being freakishly opposed to that idea. I thought he liked to drive cars, but maybe he just likes to drive them really, really fast. The kids figure out that they really are poor so they secretly skip lunch to save money to put toward their “school fees,” so I’m lead to believe it must be a private school or that these NRIs didn’t understand about free public schools available in the U.S. of A.. So the kids are quietly starving. Saif/RV lies to fellow cabbies that his daughter is sick to get money for a “hospital” bill. The cabbies are generous and give him a couple thousand dollars. RV’s a LIAR! His beti is not sick! But instant karma gets him within hours when the same kind cabbies see him out with his “sick” daughter:
The wife figures out his lies and then goes and breaks the truth to the kids, waking them up urgently from their sound and peaceful sleep. I love how sick this is, especially since it was a movie for kids. They want to protect the kids’ innocence, yet Rani/Shona was so stressed, disappointed, hungry, and exhausted from her new found poverty that she had a mini breakdown and forgot about the “Don’t Worry Be Happy” game and had to tell the kids the truth. I always thought concert pianists were a little more stable than this until now. As they say in Bollywood, she has tension. Here’s some poor parenting, not that she’s sharing the truth, but that she’s hysterical, and exaggerating, and does it by waking them in the middle of the night!
She tells the girl her dad is a liar and will do whatever he can for money, and then tops of her announcement with some more kid friendly news:
“OK sweetie, now go back to sleep.” And then there’s the second shot of instant karma: When Rani/Shona wakes up Champ in the middle of the night to tell him how bad his dad is, the boy is found with blood leaking from his mouth.
That’s usually not a good sign. Why was he spitting up this blood? Poor kid was starving, so he had to scavenge for food in the garbage, and he ate glass at lunch, either out of starvation or from a stupid mistake. Remind your children NOT to eat glass! So he has to have a $65,000 operation and Saif/RV must get the paisa, I mean money, somehow to save his lad (spoiler alert: a professional car race). I couldn’t stop smiling during this part. Am I sick or is Bollywood sick to have a family movie showing kids tumble from their high life to one where they are starving and eating glass? Boy I wish I had my own kids to show this movie, so I could sweetly threaten them, “Well, you may not like dinner tonight kids, but at least you don’t have to eat glass like that poor little Indian boy had to in TRRP. Now finish your dinner!” NOW Finally, this cute and macabre film (yes I’m using those words together) seems to achieve something that I didn’t think Bollywood could do: appeal to the NASCAR demographic. Bollywood just doesn’t quit!
I love learning new tidbits and this was a new one for me from TRRP: If you’re lying your tongue is black, if you’re telling the truth it’s pink. The little boy in the film, Champ, was know to fib, much like his dad, so he’s asked to stick out his tongue so his honesty can be checked. Apparently this is something children are told in India. I like it! Have you ever heard of this?