Bollywood superstar Salman Khan will be back on our screens, both big and small, after almost two years with Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai. The film, which will be Salman’s Eid gift to his fans, will release in a hybrid model. The film will be released in theatres, on ZEE5 with ZEE’s pay per view service ZEEPlex, and on all leading DTH operators like Dish, D2H, Tata Sky and Airtel Digital TV.
Radhe is Salman Khan’s third collaboration with Prabhudeva, which means we can expect the film to have elements of their previous hit projects together, namely Wanted and Dabangg 3. In Radhe, Salman plays an undercover cop trying to bring down a drug nexus, a fitting tribute to the other two films.
The trailer of the film was released last month and it promised a wild-ride from start to finish. Not only were there elaborate fight sequences in slow motion. There were also Salman Khan special one-liners. The other characters of the film were also as interesting as Salman’s Radhe. Randeep Hooda’s antagonist looked psychopathic and sleek. Jackie Shroff, who plays a senior police officer was quirky, to say the least. He also was the elder brother to Disha Patani’s character, who looked stunning and needed saving from the hero. In a nutshell, Radhe promises every element of a typical Salman Khan model.
In fact, it can be argued that Radhe is an extension of Salman Khan’s larger-than-life personality, which he has so carefully curated. Salman Khan’s image as a superstar solidified in 2009 when he starred in Wanted. While he had played a cop before, this was his first venture where he played one with a flamboyant personality. In a way, Wanted was a precedent for super-cop films such as Salman’s own Dabangg franchise, and Rohit Shetty’s cop universe. Wanted was Salman’s first film to enter the 100 crore club. Every film Salman has ever acted in since then, has managed to earn at least 100 crores in the box office.
Salman Khan has also always benefited from roles in which he plays some kind of an authority figure- a policeman, a soldier or an intelligence officer. Of course, there are always some films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan or a Sultan, which explore his range more than others. However, Salman Khan fans are always more comfortable in watching him beating up a 100 baddies. And by the looks of it, Salman is comfortable in making those films, too.
Take the Dabangg franchise. The first film, which came out in 2010 saw Salman Khan as Chulbul Pandey, a cop who doesn’t hesitate to break the rules to teach the villains a lesson, wears his sunglasses at the back of his head, passionately pursues his lady love and breaks out into dance moves every so often. The first film was extremely entertaining, with one-liners that people still remember well. The success of Dabangg prompted two sequels, which weren’t half as good, but successful, nonetheless.
Even with a comparatively serious action thriller like Ek Tha Tiger, Salman Khan has managed to churn out a franchise which will be successful no matter who directs it.
On the other hand, even when Salman plays a criminal or a con-man, people love to see it because it is another way the actor can display his machismo. A film like Kick, where Salman plays a thief with a heart of gold, works because of the action sequences, the bike chases and the dialogues. As long as his character is a mighty action-hero, fans are satisfied.
This is directly linked to how Salman chooses to carry himself in his personal life. His characters usually dress like him, they walk and talk like him as well. Salman is also one of the fittest actors in Bollywood, and he doesn’t shy away from showing off how ripped he is. He is also witty, and has quick come-backs during interviews or TV show appearances. Life imitates art and vice versa. This statement is true for Salman Khan, if not anyone else in Bollywood.
Is it a bad thing that the distinction between Salman the superstar and his characters, is blurry? Not necessarily. Salman has been profiting off of this image since 2009. He is arguably one of the most successful stars of Bollywood, if not the most. What does an actor want more than a guarantee that their films would always be successful?
On the other end of the spectrum, watching Salman in similar films makes it difficult for audiences to digest him in different kinds of roles. Hence, he is likely not offered different kinds of roles. However, at the end of the day, it is Salman’s choice if he wants to prioritise his films’ success over a diverse filmography. As the old adage goes — to each their own.