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Radhe review: Lacklustre Salman Khan film makes mockery of issue of drug abuse

Release Date: 13 May 2021

Read in: Hindi


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Keyur Seta

Ayananka Bose's cinematography is the only saving grace of this insipid Prabhu Deva film.

Last year, Salman Khan vowed to release Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai on Eid. Despite the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, he has delivered on his promise, with the action-thriller being released online. In fact, right at the start of the film, the actor breaks the fourth wall to wish the audience Eid Mubarak. One wishes he and the makers had put as much thought into the content of the movie. 

A hero-centric film, the likes of which used to be churned out regularly in the days of yore, Radhe is the official Hindi remake of the South Korean movie The Outlaws (2017). The film is set in a version of Mumbai where hordes of college-going youngsters and school kids fall prey to a burgeoning drug menace, which has fatal consequences for the youth. 

With the situation getting out of hand, the Mumbai police are forced to un-suspend the unconventional tough cop Radhe (Khan) in order to bring the culprits to book. Unsurprisingly, Radhe, an encounter specialist, has a reputation for not following the rules. And this time, he's up against his toughest adversary — the ruthless drug lord Rana (Randeep Hooda). 

Salman Khan and Disha Patani in Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai

Last year, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) carried out a major crackdown on drug use and possession in Mumbai. One would think that the movie is an attempt to spoof the authorities' endeavours in its depiction of the issue and the manner with which it is dealt.  

So, Radhe compels two warring underworld factions led by Dagdu (Pravin Tarde) and Dilawar (Sudhanshu Pandey) to patch up and help him flush drugs out of Mumbai. Dagdu is a saffron flag-waving Hindu while his enemy (Dilawar) is a staunch Muslim. This was Khan’s way of promoting communal harmony. A complete masterstroke! But why would Radhe assume these gangsters would readily back his cause and take an anti-drug stance, especially when the proliferation of narcotics is supposedly rampant in the city?

Radhe’s runtime is only 108 minutes. However, it seems to drag on because the actual story only lasts till the halfway mark. Beyond this point, the narrative mostly revolves around the protagonist's attempts to capture Rana, which are not unconventional but downright silly. 

Rana’s modus operandi is hilarious. He goes around killing people in broad daylight but moves around the city unmolested, sometimes on foot, without a care in the world. He also runs his syndicate from an abandoned mill, which astonishingly escapes the authorities' notice. 

Randeep Hooda in Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai

But that said, Hooda is the best actor of the lot even if his role is one-dimensional. Khan doesn’t bother put to in much effort, whether he is speaking, fighting or dancing. It just doesn’t appear interested, as was the case in the poorly received Race 3 (2018)

The lead actress’s role is never the most impactful one in this genre. But Disha Patani’s character is dumb even by the standards of such films. For example, Radhe lies to her about being a model. Later when she learns of his deception, she doesn’t react, blindly accepting him for who he is. She is also supposed to be Jackie Shroff’s younger sister in the film. But she looks more like Khan’s younger sibling. 

Shroff, the diametric opposite of Khan, tries too hard to appear relevant. The inexplicable scene where he dons Patani's skimpy outfit is cringe-inducing. Veteran actors such as Darshan Jariwala and Govind Namdev, who play inconsequential roles, are wasted. Tarde and Siddharth Jadhav, known faces from Marathi cinema, are reduced to hamming. 

Radhe suffers from bad VFX too. The helicopter scene alone is proof of this. The only saving grace is the cinematography of Ayananka Bose, which was also the only good thing about Race 3, the lensman's last collaboration with Khan. 

You are better off re-watching the outrageous television news coverage of last year's real-life drug saga on YouTube. It’s more entertaining than Radhe at any rate.  

Radhe is being streamed on ZeePlex and Zee5

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