It’s said that when Fatal Attraction, starring Glenn Close as the deranged stalker Alex, was released, audiences yelled, “Kill her! Kill the bitch!” when she is finally shot dead.
Milan Luthria’s Tadap aims for a similar effect. A frighteningly faithful remake of the Telugu film RX 100 (2018), Tadap valourises obsessive male love and has a nasty solution in store for the woman who doesn’t respond in full measure.
The 130-minute movie marks the debut of Ahan Shetty, the son of action hero Suniel Shetty. The young actor is all glower and grimness as Ishana (Shetty), the son of a cinema hall owner nicknamed Daddy (Saurabh Shukla) in Mussoorie.
Ishana falls hard for Ramisa (Tara Sutaria), the daughter of local legislator Damodar (Kumud Mishra). Daddy treats his son’s passion lightly. We don’t need matches anymore since your love burns so bright, the elder jokes (just one of writer Rajat Arora’s countless aphorisms).
The warning signs in the hillside air include the pulsating songs by Pritam, which contain doom-laden lyrics by Irshad Kamil. A more real opponent is Damodar, who actively works towards separating the lovers.
As he wallows in heartbreak, Ishana drinks heavily and lashes out at everyone around him, but somehow remembers to maintain his muscular physique. Rather than enrol his son for therapy, Daddy let Ishana simmer and suffer, despite knowing a secret about Ramisa that will tear the young man apart.
The entire narrative is a build-up to the twist in the tale that is the equivalent of a knife plunged into Ishana’s heart. Tadap’s makers are so confident of the potency of the extended climax that they ignore the lack of logic to the events, including the puzzling decision to allow Ramisa to hang around in Mussoorie long after Ishana has gone rogue.
Nobody can tell when women decide to be merciful or cruel, Ishana is informed by a local cafe owner – a woman, played by Sohaila Kapur. The Hindi remake could have dialled down the original film’s misogyny. Instead Tadap stands sympathetically by every one of those real-life men who have harassed, disfigured or even killed the women who, in their eyes, have rejected them. Ishana suffers greatly, and the movie indulges him like his father. This is a love story filled with hate, much of it reserved for its heroine.