Tadap movie review: Ahan Shetty directorial debut hinges on plot twist that's gateway to misogyny

The characters in Tadap have no shades, this makes it even less possible to empathise or sympathise with their predicament.

Udita Jhunjhunwala December 03, 2021 16:43:57 IST

1/5

In the first five minutes of Tadap, the young hero is introduced shirtless, smoking, recklessly riding his motorbike on winding hill roads, bashing up some random guys and chasing someone through the narrow streets of Mussoorie. This sequence checks all the boxes of a star son launch and Ahan Shetty snarls into the old school hero template with zeal. Ticking the remaining boxes are scenes of Shetty’s Ishana’s meet-cute with Ramisa (Tara Sutaria), the privileged daughter of local MLA Damodar Nautiyal (Kumud Mishra). The encounter, which is not a comfortable moment for the audience to observe, is the starting point for a brief but passionate romance where Ishana falls deeply and madly in love with the liberal London-returned Ramisa. Net-net: the simple small-town boy doesn’t stand a chance.

The story plays out in two timelines – three years into the past when Ishana was a contented young man devoted to his adoptive father Daddy (Saurabh Shukla). So much so that Damodar described Ishana as loyal and clear-hearted, to which his confident daughter replies, ‘Toh? Mujhe kya transplant karana hai?’ (So? It’s not as if I need a heart transplant). Rajat Arora’s dialogues are a volley of such one-liners and repartee.

In the present, Ishana is a violent, self-destructive drunk, pining for his lost love.

He is totally unhinged yet, no matter how many fights he gets into and attacks he endures, he appears physically unbreakable. His spirit and heart, however, are shattered.

Although director Milan Luthria’s Tadap is based on the 2018 Telugu film RX 100, the kind of obsessive love and this kind of story feels like a re-do of 1980s Hindi films. The notion that a man cannot take rejection and will waste away his life for a lost love is way past its expiry date.

Four songs are literally stacked on top of one another, largely to depict stages of courtship, romance, seduction and despondency. The story hinges on a plot twist that’s a gateway to release misogyny. And since the characters have no shades, this makes it even less possible to empathise or sympathise with their predicament. Tara Sutaria’s perfect hairdos and ultra feminine wardrobe, Ahan Shetty’s eagerness to carve a space in Bollywood and Mishra and Shukla’s performances as the two hapless fathers are scant recompense for a problematic ideas embedded in a story that’s built on a single curveball.

Tadap is available in cinemas

Rating: *

Udita Jhunjhunwala is a writer, film critic, and festival programmer.

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