Bollywood and NASCAR racing are about as odd a pairing as chicken tikka masala and a bottle of Coors Lite. But director Siddharth Anand's "Ta Ra Rum Pum" manages to make the culture clash -- better yet, culture crash -- a tasty diversion from the usual Hollywood fare.
For the uninitiated, expect the unexpected from Hindi cinema -- a Mulligatawny stew of song, dance, comedy, romance, and action. In this regard, "Ta Ra Rum Pum" does not disappoint.
Rajveer Singh (Saif Ali Khan) is a down-and-out racing team tire changer who dreams of speedway glory. Fate takes over when he meets New York City taxi driver Harry (funny guy Jaaved Jaaferi ), his future manager, and on the same day, the woman who will become his wife, Radhika (Rani Mukerji ). Before long, Singh wins a place on the "Speeding Saddles" team as "RV" the race car driver, and wins the girl despite her father's scowling disapproval. Next up: the wedding ring, a fancy house in the suburbs, and two kids. A rags to riches narrative is all revved up.
Naturally, the conventions of this big-brush-stroke melodrama dictate that tragedy must ensue. A car accident is destined to take RV down. Financial ruin must threaten. A child's illness will give him the courage to compete again. And this being Bollywood, through it all there's no shortage of over-the-top dance sequences, the leads and cast of extras cavorting through Manhattan in tight designer T-shirts.
While "Ta Ra Rum Pum" doesn't deliver pure joy, it's worth a pit stop , if for no other reason than for its amusing, back-seat view of an India in flux and seduced by Western pop culture. Can the NASCAR Mumbai Cup be far behind?
Ethan Gilsdorf can be reached at email@example.com.