Director: Prabhu Deva
Writers: Vijay Maurya, AC Mugil
Cinematography: Ayananka Bose
Edited by: Ritesh Soni
Starring: Salman Khan, Disha Patani, Randeep Hooda, Jackie Shroff
Streaming on: Zee5, ZeePlex
Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai is a sequel to the 2009 blockbuster Wanted. In the climax of Wanted, Radhe is pummeling Ghani Bhai, a dreaded don played with mischievous sadism by Prakash Raj. When blood starts gushing out of Ghani bhai’s mouth, he says to Radhe: ruk na yaar ruk na. Bahut dard ho raha hai. As I watched Radhe, I wanted to say the same thing to director Prabhudeva because my brain was in an advanced stage of melt down. After their last collaboration Dabangg 3, Prabhudeva delivers yet another loud, numbing, pointless paean to the cult of Salman Khan. Radhe is so free of coherence and craft that it hurts.
Wanted was a remake of the Telugu film Pokiri. Radhe is a remake of the 2017 South Korean film The Outlaws, which itself was based on real events. The Outlaws in which Ma Dong-seok plays the tough detective, is a violent but consistently entertaining action film about cops battling warring city gangs. All Prabhudeva had to do was tweak it to suit a Mumbai setting. But the director and writers Vijay Maurya and A. C. Mugil insist on adding a romantic track, feeble comedy, a sprinkling of item songs – including a reworking of Allu Arjun’s Seetimaar – and several scenes to establish Radhe as a superhero and saviour. Early in the film he murders a man who has raped a woman and declares that this murder is for ‘auraat zaat.’ Later, Radhe discourages a female cop from quitting service. He tells her that ‘Dar ke aage zindagi hai’. And towards the end, he enlists young people to help the police in their war against drug dealers by lecturing them about youth aur student ki power. Clearly Radhe hasn’t met a cause that he won’t champion.
This interminable propping up of the persona of Salman Khan through scenes, dialogue, songs and slow-motion entries is interspersed with two tracks. One is that of the drug dealers who are wrecking havoc in the city. Randeep Hooda, in leather jackets and pony tail, has some fun strutting around and butchering people with an axe. But in one scene, his character Rana kills so strenuously that he gets out of breath and I thought maybe if he ditched the jacket, he could do his job better. Also at the end, he has braids in his hair, which made me wonder, who braids Rana’s hair? Is it the job of one his two tattooed sidekicks? I wish I knew.
The other running subplot is Disha Patani as Diya, a model who thinks that Radhe is an aspiring model and tries hard to help him find employment. The 27-year age difference between Disha and Salman makes their romance decidedly awkward. Neither attempts to act. I think she perhaps thought that her incredible washboard abs would be distracting enough. He, I suspect, has concluded that it doesn’t matter. His fans will consume whatever he dishes out in the name of entertainment – here it includes close-ups of his trademark blue bracelet, a scene in front of Galaxy apartments, his actual home in Mumbai, another gratuitous scene in which he stands shirtless with what looks like, a digitized chest, and him breaking the fourth wall to wish his audience Eid Mubarak.
Radhe is an encounter specialist who has killed 97 people and had 23 transfers in 10 years. This of course is considered heroic. It’s bewildering to me that Maurya’s last feature as a dialogue writer was the terrific Gully Boy. How did the same artist create the superbly cringey scene in which Radhe tells Diya that if he had a sister, he would name her Na-diya. Meanwhile, Jackie Shroff plays Diya’s older brother and Radhe’s boss – in one scene, he’s close dancing with Radhe wearing a strappy silk dress. I’m not making this up. The only saving grace is that at one hour and 49 minutes, this is among Salman shortest films.
Radhe is playing on Zee Plex and Zee 5. But I recommend that you see The Outlaws instead.