Jawan is easily SRK’s most political film in the recent past with the actor taking on the establishment. He also delivers a passionate monologue about the importance of voting wisely
September 8, 2023
Director Atlee’s stories are never original; they are more about effective packaging. Jawan is no different. In simple terms if you mix Shankar’s brand of cinema with Chak De India the result would be Jawan.
Jawan is a father and son drama at its core; Azad and Vikram Rathod (Shah Rukh Khan in a double role). One of them is a masked vigilante who wants to speed up the societal changes in unconventional ways. Helping him in this mission are a bunch of women prisoners headed by Sanya Malhotra and Priyamani. Each of these prisoners have their own back stories that cover different issues plaguing our society. Kaali (Vijay Sethupati) is a dangerous arms dealer who has a history with the father SRK. Last but not the least is Narmada (Nayanthara) who is a determined NSG officer on the lookout for the vigilante. In a twist of events she also ends up marrying one of the SRKs (one of the absurdist thing in the story) for the sake of her daughter. She is a single mother. Revealing anything more wouldn’t be appropriate as the film goes through a non linear storyline with many twists and turns.
A big strength of Jawan is the packaging of the various social issues that Atlee takes up. Sure the treatment isn’t subtle and does require suspension of belief but the conviction of Atlee and SRK is such that as viewers we can’t help but cheer. As mentioned above Jawan is Shah Rukh’s most political film in the recent times. Many of societal problems find a place in Jawan. Whether it is farmers being driven to suicide because of loan sharks, the severely underdeveloped government facilities, the frauds taking place in election and the manufacture of bad quality military weapons among others. There is also a Meta moment where SRK directly addresses his fans and delivers a passionate monologue. All this has come out in a powerful manner. Sumit Arora’s dialogues hugely aid in this.
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Father and son drama has always an emotional connect, irrespective of how many times we have seen it. There is a rousing interval bang when the son SRK has been tied up with no hopes of getting away. At that exact moment you have the arrival of the father. The dialogue there is “Bete ko Haath Lagane se pahle, baap se baat Kar (Deal with the father before you touch the son).” This comes at the moment when the father is assumed to be dead. This again is a perfectly placed Meta moment and looks like a warning from SRK to not mess with his son Aryan Khan in the future. The father character is a military officer who was accused of being a traitor. He was thrown from a helicopter by Kaali and suffers from a partial memory loss. As a result he doesn’t completely remember the past. The scenes where both the SRKs feature are an absolute treat.
Early on there is a sequence where the vigilante Shah Rukh takes a metro train as hostage. When Nayanthara asks him what are his demands over the wireless he gives a witty reply saying “I want Alia Bhatt but she is younger in age.” The reaction shot of the passenger sitting next to him adds to the humour. Many dialogues both political ones and humorous ones like this evoked a lot of hooting and cheering from the audiences.
Shah Rukh Khan has successfully ventured into the mass zone in the past too but Atlee’s presentation of the superstar is something else. Shah Rukh owns every frame that he is in. He embraces the masala tone of Atlee with absolute fervour. Nayanathara makes a solid Bollywood debut with her portrayal of Narmada both as a determined cop and also as a single mother. There is a terrific action sequence where Narmada takes on the masked SRK. It is a treat to watch.
The few romantic scenes between Nayanthara and SRK are pleasant to watch particularly in the song Chaleya. However the same cannot be said of the brief flashback portion consisting of Deepika. It has been written patchily. Sanjay Dutt also has an extended cameo. The women prisoners have reasonably fleshed out parts. The ones who stand out are Sanya Malhotra and Priyamani.
Vijay Sethupati who locks horns with both the father and son does not have a lot to do in the beginning but he more than makes up for it in the second half. He gets some comic punches that leave you in splits.
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Anirudh Ravichander’s music doesn’t quite match the scale of the film but Zinda Banda and Chaleya are foot tapping numbers. There is also Aararaari Raaro which has a good emotional touch. But his background score is excellent particularly in the scenes where the vigilante SRK takes over.
At a time when most systems are failing in delivering justice the success of Jawan would represent the angst of the common man and the justice (by whatever means) that he is hoping for in Bharateeyudu style.
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