After pushing the boundaries with Salaam Namaste, a liberal sex before Indian marriage love story set in Australia, writer/director Siddharth Anand deserved full credit for its blockbuster success. It's a pity the same cannot be said of his follow up, Ta Ra Rum Pum. Borrowing unashamedly from Ron Howard's Cinderella Man, Anand replaces Russell Crowe's tough boxer with Saif Ali Khan, playing a competitive New York racecar driver, who battles to keep his dignity and family afloat after suffering a serious injury. Neither an inspiring sports film, nor an accomplished drama, this is a real drag.
Rajveer Singh (Khan) is a pit-crew worker in a racing team whose passion for driving leads him into the radar of team manager, Harry (Jaaved Jaaferi). Drafted in, he sets about transforming the fortunes of his ailing team Speeding Saddles, whilst winning the heart of pianist Radhika (Rani Mukerji). Fast forward a few years and the speed demon is riding on a wave of success, with two beautiful kids to boot, until a major accident predictably forces him off the track. Replaced by his comically named rival, Rusty Finklestein, he is forced to pay back his debts, shift to the Bronx and take a job as, you guessed it, a New York cabbie.
"STAYS IN NEUTRAL GEAR"
This had the potential to be a touching tale of the triumph of the human spirit over life's obstacles, but it becomes a wishy washy affair, thanks to Habib Faisel's poor screenplay. Khan and Mukerji's talents are wasted as they sleepwalk through umpteen romantic and racing scenes, as do the precocious child actors Angelina Idnani and Ali Haji. Using a mixture of fantasy and cheeriness to pull the family through in the face of adversity, the plot stays stuck in neutral gear instead of charging ahead.
Ta Ra Rum Pum is released in UK cinemas on Friday 27th April 2007.