The masala film genre doesn’t seem to be having its moment at the movies lately. Whether it be last year’s Baaghi 3 or the recent yellow mess that was Mumbai Saga, it’s difficult to remember the last solid potboiler that Bollywood made. Radhe only rubs salt in those wounds.
A remake of the much-loved Korean film The Outlaws (2017), Radhe follows the journey of a cop trying to clean Mumbai up of its drug mafia. I haven’t seen the original so I don’t have a point of comparison, but Radhe on its own is so stale and generic that it’d be difficult to describe much more. The plot here is wafer-thin, barely hanging by a thread. Forget logic, the film is barely comprehensible. The movie feels like a rehash of countless other Salman Khan films and is hard to retain moments after it is over, simply because we’ve seen this so many times before!
Early on in the film, we see Radhe (Salman Khan) run through glass at the speed of Flash and spit those same shards of glass at someone. Such ridiculous action is present throughout the film’s duration.
Its action, though, is the least of this film’s problems. It’s aided by cringeworthy dialogues, awful VFX, sloppy acting and a story that borders on preposterousness. In fact, the narrative is so scattered that by the end, the whole piece barely registers as a film at all. It is also tonally flat, absolutely tone-deaf to today’s times and glorifies police brutality.
The writing by A.C. Mugil is so trite and messy that the entire film seems like an incoherent string of random scenes. Vijay Maurya, who wrote the dialogues for 2019’s excellent Gully Boy, seems completely out of his element here. I can barely think of a dialogue which wasn’t cringe-inducing to say the least. Director Prabhu Deva‘s treatment of the film is dated and banal, much like its other components.
Radhe also features chopped bodies and broken bones. I would’ve called it borderline-gory had the violence not reeked of such a “been there, seen that” vibe. Come on, do they still expect us to enjoy watching and hearing the sound of crunching bones?
The performances aren’t any better. Salman Khan seems to be in autopilot mode. He plays an extended version of himself in a performance not too different from that in Race 3. Like countless other films, this one too succumbs to his star-power. So we get shots of him walking outside Galaxy Apartments, his home, and tacky Big Boss references. Disha Patani is annoyingly chirpy in a character that has the depth of a flat surface. But my heart bled most for Randeep Hooda. He’s a very fine actor but he’s saddled with such awful dialogue here that it’s hard not to laugh.
In fact, much of the film plays out as unintentional comedy. The attempts at action are comical and the attempts at comedy, ghastly. Radhe is the kind of film that is hard to review without making it sound like a rant. But a bad film in times like these hits harder than usual because it feels like an opportunity missed. Everyone is looking for fun, light and even dumb entertainment. Radhe could’ve been an antidote to the sheer sadness of today’s world, even if it was mediocre. But this isn’t a mediocre film, it’s a disjointed mess in which I struggled to find a single redeeming quality.
By the end, I decided to shift my focus towards Randeep Hooda’s immaculately made hair and… Mumbai’s beautiful sky. The film left me exhausted and worn out. It made me ask a perennial question: why are we, the audience, being taken for a ride?
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.