Salman Khan fans crash streaming website to watch 'Radhe' despite bad reviews

The Bollywood star's Eid film trialled a multi-platform release as theatres remain shut in India because of the coronavirus pandemic

Salman Khan and Disha Patani in 'Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai'. Instagram / beingsalmankhan
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Amid the devastating effects the Covid-19 pandemic has had on India's film industry, the latest viewership numbers for Bollywood star Salman Khan's Eid Al Fitr release, Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai, might come as a ray of hope.

Released on streaming website Zee5 and pay-per-view platform ZeePlex in India on Thursday, the action film was viewed by 4.2 million people on the first day, causing the websites to crash, according to Zee Studios.

“Thank you for the unprecedented love. We are fixing the issues and will be back soon,” Zee5 posted on Thursday after heavy traffic led to technical glitches.

Radhe's multi-platform release, which includes theatrical releases in the UAE and other markets outside of India, is the first time Bollywood has trialled such an approach as cinemas remain shuttered across India.

In the UAE, a total of 83,820 people saw the film on the first three days of Eid, according to distributor Phars Film.

Actor and producer Khan, who is known for his blockbuster Eid releases, was forced to delay the release of Radhe in 2020. Then, as the second wave of the coronavirus brought India to a halt, the actor sold the rights of the film earlier this year to Zee Studios for a reported 200 crore rupees ($27 million).

Khan's earlier Eid releases Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Sultan made more than 300 crore rupees ($40 million) each at the box office, according to financial daily Mint.

Directed by Prabudeva, Radhe has Khan playing an undercover policeman who infiltrates a gang in order to bust a turf war in Mumbai. The film, which also stars Disha Patani, Jackie Shroff and Randeep Hooda, has received mostly negative reviews, however.

Giving Radhe a zero rating, Firstpost writes: "There is absolutely nothing in this film to recommend it. Nothing."

The Quint, which gave the film 0.5 rating, called it "loud, senseless and offensive".

"One does not expect much sense from a Salman film, but this kind of nonsense sure has its best before date and it's well past it," The Quint's review reads.

The Indian Express called it a "mindless, moronic mess of a film", also giving the film a 0.5 rating.

On Friday, the film was leaked online and began streaming for free on pirated websites. Khan took to Twitter to plead fans not to watch pirated versions and warn those responsible that they would "get into a lot of trouble".

"We offered you to watch our film Radhe at a reasonable price of INR 249 per view. In spite of that, pirated sites are streaming Radhe illegally which is a serious crime," the actor wrote in a Twitter post on Saturday. "Cyber Cell is taking action against these illegal pirated websites. Please don't participate in piracy."