First the good news: Bollywood actor Salman Khan, 55, looks impossibly well-preserved in his latest Eid spectacle ‘Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai’.
The bad news? There’s a limit to which an age-defying dude and bronzed rippling torso can uplift a preposterously shoddy film filled with actors who love to ham their way out of any scene. Ever heard of a hero overstaying his welcome?
Director Prabhu Deva’s ‘Radhe’ is about a Herculean cop waging a war on a lethal drug cartel ravaging Mumbai, but in reality this outlandish film wages a war against common sense and bludgeons you with its implausibility.
Agreed, nobody walks into a Salman Khan film expecting cerebral stimulation, but even the most devoted Bhai fans (as they are fondly called) might balk at the brazen stupidity on display. Khan, who plays the titular role, never walks into a room, he always crashes through a window with glass splinters flying all around him. Even a burning helicopter plummeting from the sky carrying a mutinous Radhe and drug overlord Rana (Randeep Hooda) isn’t a patch on him as they escapes scratch-free and continue arm wrestling like toddlers on a sugar-high both mid-air and on earth.
At the outset, it’s drilled into us that Radhe is a formidable and fearless rebel cop whose resume boasts 97 encounters and 23 punishment transfers. He doesn’t play by the rule book and has a heightened moral radar. When he sprays bullets on an influential sexual predator and rapist, Radhe declares that he’s taking one for the women’s team around the globe. In the next few scenes, don’t be zapped if you see a skimpily-clad Jacqueline Fernandez gyrating sensuously in a dazzling song cameo or see its young heroine Disha Patani be a glorified airhead who makes being ditzy an art form.
‘Radhe’ is incredibly regressive even though it tries hard to masquerade as a progressive ‘masala’ entertainer. Hyper masculine men and beautiful women with zero agency are the defining traits of this action-filled film. It also suffers from a massive ‘Wanted’ hangover, Khan’s 2009 blockbuster directed by Prabhu Deva too. But what worked more than a decade ago is unlikely to fly with the audiences in 2021.
The plot twists appear ludicrous and choppy. Even the villains are unintentionally hilarious. Watching a talented actor like Hooda play a tinny villain in a long leather coat and longer hair is painful to the eyes. Apparently, he hopes to run a drug empire in Mumbai and the city’s impressionable youth are his targets. But the way he goes about marking his territory is laughable. Hooda isn’t menacing, but comes across as a pesky menace.
Even Khan’s impossibly strong star-wattage and on-screen charisma cannot salvage this doomed spectacle that dumbs down its viewers and its players on the big screen.
Seasoned actors such as Jackie Shroff is wasted in poorly-written roles. His attempt at humour lands in a few places, but falls flat for most parts of the film. And, since women have almost zero agency in a Khan’s films, they tick the box of looking pretty and vivacious. For instance, Patani as an aspiring model with zero self-preservation skills looks fetching, but not much is asked of her.
Even if you are in a forgiving mood during a festive holiday, Khan doesn’t give us much to hold onto in ‘Radhe’. His cautionary tale about war on drugs doesn’t give you any high and makes you feel wretched about wasting precious hours of our life in a darkened movie hall.
This film should ideally re-christened ‘Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bore’. Even Khan, with all his star power and super-human aura, cannot rescue this misadventure.
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Film: Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai
Director: Prabhu Deva
Cast: Salman Khan, Disha Patani, Randeep Hooda, and Jackie Shroff
Stars: 2 out of 5