Sunday, May 06, 2007

Ta Ra Rum Pum - A Confused Film


Siddharth Anand's Ta Ra Rum Pum could've been a traditional old-school love story with a contemporary twist, where a rich girl falls in love with a not-so-rich guy but faces severe opposition from her dad who is not concerned so much about the guy's financial status, but his lack of decent education and 'intellect'. Now that would be an interesting reason for 'opposition'...I don't recall 'intellect' being the cause of conflict in many Hindi films.

It could've been a film addressing a genuine contemporary problem – that materialism and lack of prudent financial planning finds many young couples caught in a vicious debt trap. We all know how banks and credit card companies make their money!

It could've been a simple feel-good underdog film, where the protagonist reaches his pinnacle only to go downhill thanks to the 'cruel games of destiny'; and then fights against all odds to come back right at the top. We always have a thing for underdogs, don't we?

It could've been one of those 60s tearjerkers where a family struggles with poverty and the children take it upon themselves to ease the sufferings of their parents. Or a sensitive tale of poor parents shielding their children from harsh reality by putting on a charade.

It could even have been a revenge saga, where the protagonist loses a car race thanks to the evil machinations of another competitor, and vows to avenge his defeat by giving him the same treatment in the climax. OK...Saif doesn't quite vow revenge, but the climax does smack of tit-for-tat!

The truth is: Ta Ra Rum Pum is none of these, yet has elements of all. It's almost as if pieces from several different films have been loosely put together to create a one-size-fits-all film. Unfortunately, what we end up with is a thoroughly confused film that doesn't seem to know where it's going.

This is formulaic filmmaking working overtime. I have nothing against formulas; on the contrary I do enjoy formula films. But in Ta Ra Rum Pum the formula itself is wrongly put together.

First of all, what's with the title? It has no relation to the film except for a song that tries hard – very hard indeed – to relate four animated characters (Ta, Ra, Ma & Pa) to the main characters in the film (Saif, Rani and the children). The film that I think has the most nonsensical film title of all time - Shin Shinaki Boobla Boo, had lead characters with those names, so it wasn't so nonsensical after all. Couldn't Aditya Chopra or Siddharth Anand, or whoever wrote the script do something as simple as naming the two children with Ta and Ra (with Rani and Saif obviously being Ma and Pa)? That would've made some sense at least.

Then, what was the need to have that whole back story about Saif and Rani falling in love? Agreed, we like love stories and the songs that come along with that. But here the love story is extremely dull and uninteresting, and the songs insipid.

I really don't want to trash this film, because it does have some interesting bits. Sadly, these interesting elements just hang in there incoherently. They provide just momentary glimpses into what this film could have been, but is not!