A scene from “Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai.” (Publicity photo)

MUMBAI — It’s redemption time for Salman Khan, especially with his Eid releases: in a row, “Tubelight” (2017) was a damp squib, “Race 3” (2018) a bad film that just about recovered investment after a while thanks to Khan’s clout among audience, and “Bharat” (2019), ditto, was also a drag. Khan also let down his fans with “Dabangg 3” (Christmas 2019) and, but for “Tiger Zinda Hai” (Christmas 2017) seemed to be losing his connect with the audience.

With “Radhe,” released after a year’s “delay” (in which additions and subtractions were done!), he reestablishes his rapport with his fans. They are likely to go hysterical at his action, lines, expressions and dance movements—in short, the complete Salman Khan package, playing to the gallery like probably never before. That too in a concise 108-minute package!

We get to see the entrance to his real residence (the legendary Galaxy Apartments in the beginning of B.J. Road in Mumbai’s suburb of Bandra), the famous one-liner from “Wanted” (heard twice) and even his statement over a reference to biryani that is sure to drive the audience hysterical—“Eid Mubarak.”

The Salman-Prabhudheva team (which faltered with “Dabangg 3”) also brings in the “Wanted” angle of a young, innocent heroine who does not know what her hero does for a living. However, the revelation is done with just one scene and line, unlike in the former film. This is facilitated by the girl, Dia Abhyankar (Disha Patani) being the sister to Radhe’s eccentric boss Avinash (Jackie Shroff), the kind who comically takes credit for Radhe’s achievements and blusters his way with juniors and is also prone to weaknesses of the flesh!

The antagonists are the newly-arrived-in-Mumbai trio of Rana (Randeep Hooda), Girgit (Gautam Gulati) and another sadistic guy who thinks nothing of biting off his own tongue (Sang Hae). They are drug peddlers who sell death to college kids and make big money. For this, Radhe, an encounter specialist, is called back from suspension, and with a small team, decides to “clean up the city” taking the help of some youngsters.

The film, let me state at this juncture, is completely critic-proof, and it will be silly to even find logic or something higher in this conglomeration of action, emotions, dance and classic Salman-esque humor with an avalanche of coincidences and “seeti-maar” (clapworthy) or emotional lines.

Rana slashes his way everywhere, bumping off enemies and even having a preliminary fight with Radhe in a hotel toilet (one of the afterthought sequences added recently). He is cruel to the extreme, raping at will and bludgeoning defaulters with giant hammers. Radhe thus treats “normal” gangsters as his assistants as they do not deal in drugs and takes their help. Sadly, Rana annihilates them.

The love-track goes parallel. Dia is a model and Radhe, initially, claims to be struggling to become one, which leads to her helping him with fairly amusing results. They have two songs to enact, but the best song (in a humdrum lot) goes to a situational number that has Jacqueline Fernandez in a cameo. After “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” and “Sultan,” Khan’s musical acumen has seemingly gone for a toss, or maybe it is (Sigh!) just the trends of the times. “Tubelight” and “Tiger Zinda Hai” just had a good song each.

Technically, the film is upmarket and Salman Khan looks young and dishy, not unsuitable for someone of Disha Patani’s age. I was impressed by Randeep Hooda’s quiet and vicious villainy, but as for Jackie Shroff, this is his second consecutive ridiculous and supposedly comic role after “Hello Charlie.” The rest of the cast do what is needed, though Sang Hae and Megha Akash (as the girl cop) do it well!

Maybe, apart from Salman, it is also the crisp length and the tight editing (Ritesh Soni), but “Radhe,” to hardcore fans of Salman’s action dramas, comes across as a tale that entertains despite its predictability—the hallmark of a thoroughbred old-fashioned Hindi crime drama.

Rating: ***

Produced by: Salma Khan, Sohail Khan & Atul Agnihotri

Directed by: Prabhudheva

Written by: A.C. Mughil & Vijay Maurya from the Korean film “The Outlaws” based on a story by Kang-Yung Sung

Music: Sajid-Wajid, Himesh Reshammiya & Devi Sri Prasad

Starring: Salman Khan, Disha Patani, Jackie Shroff, Randeep Hooda, Sudhanshu Pandey, Sang Hae, Gautam Gulati, Megha Akash, Bharath Srinivasan, Narra Srinivas, Govind Namdev, Pravin Tarde, Darshan Jariwala, Siddhartha Jadhav,

Arjun Kanungo,Vishwajeet Pradhan, Mitansh Lulla, Micky Makhija, Ihana Dhillon, Shahwar Ali, Sp. App.: Jacqueline Fernandez and others

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