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Saturday, June 19, 2021

In defence of Salman Khan’s Radhe: True commitment?

It’s our fault that we have started to expect more from Salman Khan because of films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Otherwise, he has been true to type.

Written by Anuradha Varma | New Delhi |
Updated: May 31, 2021 11:11:44 am
Radhe Your Most Wanted Bhai, radhe, salman khanRadhe released on ZEE5's pay per view platform ZEEPlex, leading DTH operators and in theatres simultaneously on May 13.

As a disclaimer, I would like to point out that I don’t normally review movies because, as you’ll find out soon enough, my standards are quite low. And to set the record straight, I do enjoy discerning fare, such as The Undoing, A Very English Scandal, The Night Manager, even Sense8, while the Mare of Easttown is on my list of shows to watch.

But, as we all are aware, ever so often, we want to go down the rabbit hole of watching mindless Bollywood entertainment, especially those of us who grew up on a steady diet of “dishoom-dishoom” movies. It’s like picking up a Mills & Boon or Harlequin romance, knowing that the strong, silent, inscrutable hero will confess at the end that he loved the heroine “all along”.

salman khan radhe movie stills Radhe has been directed by Prabhudheva.

Watch Kati Patang, for instance, which will probably hold up as a classic for most cinephiles. In the last scene, Rajesh Khanna pursues Asha Parekh because she has decided to exit his life. He finds her, for all purposes, in the middle of what looks like a stroll, with no evidence of any luggage. For god’s sakes, at least pack a handbag! The saree, for sure, doesn’t have a pocket for her documents and cash. We wonder what would have happened if the star hadn’t caught up with her!

In Radhe, when Salman Khan enters and minutes later says “Eid Mubarak”, I could almost hear the deafening screams of the audience in a Daryaganj single-screen hall, during the first Eid showing of Bodyguard. I remember the audience was still screaming (yes, in appreciation and excitement, not pain) when we moved out of the hall.

When Disha Patani’s character calls him “good boy” multiple times, we’re all in on the humour. We know this is a star in his mid-50s, the audience knows it, the actor knows it. And it feels like an inside joke.

So, what made me watch it in the first place, despite all the bad reviews? Difficult question and I probably still need some psychoanalysis to answer that, but perhaps, it was the need to watch something ‘so bad it was good’ and the fact that it was a Khan movie that was under two hours long! The plot is nothing — everyone gets bashed up till Salman Khan saves the day. It was nice to see Randeep Hooda as a Salman staple, as roles are hard to come by for a competent, serious actor, so at least he made payday.

A Salman Khan movie is hardly ever about the story. You have a couple of signature dance moves which kids can follow and serve as exercise routines, couple of dialogues, some music that can be a hit at the pub (or your home gym now). As Joey appreciatively comments when he digs into Rachel’s Thanksgiving ‘trifle’ on Friends, which Ross says “tastes like feet”, “Custard good, jam good, meat good.”

It’s our fault that we have started to expect more from the actor because of films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Otherwise, he has been true to type. We can’t complain, can we, when the movie ends with his signature dialogue, “Ek baar maine commitment kar di…”

The real test is with his audience and they could be lapping it up, for all we know. And, can I say that his checkered shirts were a nice touch?

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