Salman Khan’s latest movie Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai is yet another remake, this time of the South Korean hit The Outlaws. Any resemblance between the original, a grimly comic and fleet actioner, and its Hindi version is largely coincidental.
More derivativeness is in store for Khan completists: his hero’s name is a throwback to characters he played in Tere Naam (a remake of the Tamil sleeper hit Sethu) and Wanted (the Hindi version of the Telugu blockbuster Pokiri). Khan’s turquoise bracelet from Wanted returns too, but Radhe needs more than a good-luck charm to succeed.
Radhe has been released on the streamer Zee5 and direct-to-home platforms. Directed by Prabhudeva with typical mindlessness, the movie follows police officer Radhe’s war on drugs. The main adversary is Rana (Randeep Hooda), a long-haired gent who relishes sticking knifes into necks. Rana’s entry shakes up the Mumbai underworld and gives Radhe something real to worry about.
Rana’s brutality is gender-agonistic, but is evened out by the highly sexualised depiction of Disha Patani’s character Dia. Nearly always dressed in teensy-weensy costumes and forever flinging herself about, the 28-year-old actor gives her 55-year-old co-star serious competition in the body display department.
Here’s another one for Khan completists: Dia’s brother is played by Jackie Shroff, who happens to be the father of Patani’s real-life partner Tiger Shroff. The makers of Radhe must have had a good laugh about that one.
At 64, Shroff is closer in age to Khan. Yet, Shroff is cast as an older oaf who, as Radhe’s boss Avinash, takes credit for his achievements. In one scene, Avinash even shows up in a slinky dress that was once on Dia’s person.
The pecking order is clear: it’s all about Salman Khan. Billed as a saviour of adolescents, women, and other representatives of humanity, Radhe typically enters a room by crashing through windows. Scene after scene is designed to showcase Khan’s continuing virility. The copious use of digital intermediate technology helps dissolve the lines on Khan’s face. Radhe’s icky romance with Dia is offered as proof of Khan’s sex appeal across generations.
It’s a minor miracle, then, that Randeep Hooda makes an impact as the unrelentingly cruel Rana, who has only recently arrived in Mumbai from Delhi and yet has the city’s unique slang down pat. Rana’s modes of dispatch – stabbings, bludgeoning, skulls being smashed into metal surfaces – and his twisted sense of humour bring the 109-minute movie closest to its Korean source material.
The rest is a typical Salman Khan show: cheesy humour, a young and oomph-oozing heroine rubbing herself up against a near-ascetic hero, club songs, gravity-defying fights. More attention has been paid to the proceedings than in Khan’s previous outings Dabanng 3 and Race 3, but that’s not saying much.