Radhe movie review: A dozen Salman Khan starrers diced and tossed together in stale oil
Radhe is so generic that it would be a challenge to write down the plot from A-Z after a single viewing.
(Our software does not permit us to show less than a 0.1 in the rating graphic above. Please note that the actual rating given to this film by our critic is 0 stars.)
Take a dozen Salman Khan starrers. Peel and dice them without washing. Throw the whole lot into a wok with stale oil left over from last week’s cooking. Toss them together and serve when half cooked.
That seems to be the recipe director Prabhu Deva followed for his latest collaboration with Salman Khan. Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai harks back to their blockbuster team-up in 2009, Wanted, in which Khan played an undercover cop going by the name from which this new film takes its title. Wanted was a remake of the Telugu smash hit Pokiri. Text on screen right before Radhe rolls declares that it is based on the Korean film The Outlaws directed by Kang Yun-sung – the fact that they do not bother to specify whether the Korea in this case is South or North Korea should tell you all you need to know about Radhe’s attention to detail.
Briefly, Radhe is the story of a turf war in Mumbai’s drug-peddling scene when a new lord – a guy called Rana played by Randeep Hooda – enters the picture, and a disgraced cop (Radhe, but of course) is called in to bust this deadly racket that has led to an outbreak of addiction and deaths among the city’s youth.
It speaks volumes about Bollywood’s terrifying notion of coolth that it persists in reminding us of that other Salman-starrer Tere Naam in which his character was called Radhe years before Wanted was released. Tere Naam was a horrific romanticisation of a self-destructive man whose obsessive, proprietorial attitude towards the heroine was portrayed as a mark of his bottomless well of love. Radhe is not scary in the way Tere Naam was. It is just plain bad.
This film is so generic that it would be a challenge to write down the plot from A-Z after a single viewing. As with a zillion films featuring Salman that have gone before it, this one too gives him a grand entry complete with Dhan-te-nan and fisticuffs, a scene in which the camera focuses on his trademark bracelet before we glimpse his face, and he breaks the fourth wall to address his fans directly, looking straight at the camera in the middle of a conversation with a gangster just as he says the words “Eid Mubarak” in a supposedly clever sentence.
Radhe is so dull that at one point Salman himself fell asleep in the middle of a conversation. I kid you not – there is a scene in which his girlfriend (Disha Patani) does this weird seduction dance and as she slides up close to whisper sweet nothings to him, he begins snoring lightly with eyes open while standing facing her; as she realises he has dozed off, his head flops down on her shoulder. This appears to be a shot at humour by the writer, but since the context makes no sense, I can only guess that it was a self-aware inside joke by Team Radhe about the soporific quality of their film.
Like most Bollywood works in this space, Radhe treats its ‘heroine’ as nothing but a body on display whose sole job is to give the hero someone to fall in love with, dance with and protect. Nevertheless, it features two scenes designed to gaslight what it must assume is a very stupid audience into believing the opposite. First is an episode in which the leading man bashes up a whole gang of men to save a woman from assault and when one of the villains says in disbelief, “Itne saare logon ko tuney ek ladki ke liye maara?!” (You beat up so many men for the sake of just one woman?!), he replies grandly, “Aurat zaat ke liye” (for all womankind). Dhan-te-nan again!
Later, when Radhe’s creepy, horny elderly boss (Jackie Shroff) excitedly poses for selfies with a group of sexy women, he says pointedly, “I respect women.”
I mean, what the…
Okay, I must clarify that at this point I collapsed on my sofa laughing.
Radhe’s helmsman has emerged from the same medical college that services many Indian film industries, a college where they are trained to believe that the average Indian mother has a much longer reproductive cycle than women actually do. This fantasy enabled director Santhosh Vishwanath to cast the nearly septuagenarian Mammootty and 24-year-old Nimisha Sajayan as siblings in the recent Malayalam release One, and here has Shroff at 64 playing 28-year-old Patani’s elder brother.
Cliché piles up on cliché in Radhe. There are so many that an exhaustive list is impossible within the limited space of a review. Even the film’s production quality is sub-par – it has a plastic look in both indoor and outdoor sequences.
Shockingly for a film headed by Prabhu Deva, whose reputation as a dancer precedes all else across India, Radhe’s choreography is also unimpressive (as it was in Dabangg 3, which too he directed). As they dance to 'Seeti Maar', a lively number mindlessly placed right after a scene of brutal violence, the centrepiece step assigned to Ms Patani and Mr Khan has them awkwardly rubbing their bums together.
Salman plays Salman throughout Radhe, which has been fun on rare occasions in the past but is no longer so. It’s a pity though that fine actors like Shroff and Hooda have wasted themselves on this pile of nothingness. Hooda’s role is confined to bloodletting, a threatening stare and wearing his hair in a ponytail.
As for Patani, who is definitely capable of being more than just a clothes horse, her decision to sign up for Radhe is either a reflection of the limited choices available to women in Bollywood or her own lack of confidence – Ms, you are better than this.
There is absolutely nothing in this film to recommend it. Nothing. Not even an atom of the novelty that made Wanted and Dabangg attractive to audiences beyond Salman’s hard-core fan base. The actor does a version of his jiggle-the-belt move from Dabangg somewhere along the way in Radhe. He also repeats the line from Wanted that became a rage back in the 2000s: Ek baar jo maine commitment kar di, toh apne aap ki bhi nahin sunta (Roughly: Once I make a commitment, even I can’t persuade myself to turn away from it). But…kisi ki toh sunn lo, Bhai. Listen to someone, please. Radhe is a non-starter. It should never have been made.
Rating: 0 (out of 5 stars)
Radhe is available on ZEEPlex and several other platforms.
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