Jawan wallows big-time in emotions, patriotism and more

Shah Rukh Khan does a father and son dual role in Jawan. Photo: Spice PR

That Jawan will be a hit is as obvious as the lack of sunshine on the rainy day on which I watched it. The conundrum of whether its actual b-o. collections will be hyped is best left to those who follow the box-office figures only. What matters is that another huge masala-driven big-budget, intentionally illogical, action extravaganza will add to the 2023 box-office treasury led by Pathaan, The Kerala Story, Gadar 2, OMG2 and Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani.

The one anachronistic element of the film is the amount of corruption shown at all levels—medical care, arms supplies and the matter of bank loans to the rich and poor. In this era of India’s growth, Shah Rukh Khan’s sermonizing on the power of the people’s vote, though theoretically accurate, sounds more than a shade out of place and out of date as well!

But writer-director Atlee taps on the right emotional chords while telling the characters’ back-stories. For this, the illogic used is massive: a farmer (Omkar Das Manikpuri), who commits suicide as he cannot repay a loan of Rs. 40,000, a doctor (Sanya Malhotra) framed for the deaths of dozens of children when the fault lies elsewhere, a corrupt minister who has 4400 billion (!!!!) that he can pay instantly and by digital means (!!!!!!) when a ‘terrorist’ demands it, an arms supplier, Kaali (Vijay Sethupati) who can do anything to anyone, literally, at will.

Vikram Rathore (Shah Rukh Khan), an idealistic jawan (soldier), is killed by Kaali by being thrown off a plane for making the latter face legal action as the supplier of defective guns that led to a whole platoon of soldiers being massacred by terrorists. Kaali has also managed to convince everyone that the late Vikram was a traitor.

Vikram’s wife, Aishwarya (Deepika Padukone), who has killed two men, who are actually goons, when Kaali attacked their home, is still sentenced to be hanged, thanks to Kaali’s influence. But within the women’s jail, she is found to be pregnant. Her hanging, as per law, is postponed until her child, Azad, is five years old.

By the time she is taken to the gallows, Aishwarya manages to imbibe Azad with all the right values, helped by the warden, Kaveri (Riddhi Dogra), who adopts Azad as her son. All this is narrated in flashback. The film begins with a grown-up Azad (Shah Rukh Khan again) being an ace vigilante along with a six-member female squad. He is also the jailer in the same place where he was born and has converted it into an ideal place that has won international acclaim.

Using hi-tech (lets skip where and how they get the resources, supplies, arms and places to operate and execute their missions, which includes liberal suspension of disbelief and massive coincidences like the right remarks by the baddies!), the squad (each with their own horrendous past, thanks to corrupt forces) slowly brings the guilty to book, and the last one to get his just desserts is Kaali.

Vikram has survived (no, that’s not a spoiler!) and now, the good forces come together against evil. Azad, through his video messages to the nation, has become a social Messiah and his own wife, ace cop Narmada (Nayanthara), who has been after this ‘criminal’, is convinced about her husband’s mission and has been converted to his side.

Mumbai residents will also be fascinated to know that there is a long tunnel before Chakala Metro station on the way to Ghatkopar where the train is held hostage! But that’s just a small sample of the humongous suspension of disbelief that we thought Manmohan Desai had mastered in his time. But thanks to VFX and today’s scriptwriters, his films look like child’s play when our filmmakers now aspire for Mission Impossible and Marvel levels and more!

In such a phantasmagoria of action, we find Shah Rukh Khan well-entrenched as Vikram and Azad, and the whistles I heard at the multiplex show that he is now a legit addition to our action heroes. He has assessed what made him lose out to peers like Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn and is going full-steam into the fantasy action genre that these heroes have mastered. As an actor, it’s an undemanding role, vis-à-vis his pre-Pathaan adventures that did not do well, but his charisma and easy talent keeps him going. I liked him best as the bald Azad in the Metro hijack sequence—he is a total delight as he dances to the 1960s chartbuster Bekaraar karke yoon na jaaiye!

Nayanthara is merely okay, though Seeza Saroj Mehta as her daughter is a natural delight. Sanya Malhotra, among the girls in Azad’s squad, stands out effortlessly, a sheer testimony again to this brilliant talent that is, as mentioned before in my columns, Aamir Khan’s finest discovery to date! Also effective is Priyamani as Lakshmi.

From the rest, Lehar Khan as Kalki is very good. Deepika is alright, and from the male cast, Sangay Tsheltrim as Juju is excellent. Eijaz Khan and Sunil Grover are wasted. The weakest part of this film is Vijay Sethupati as Kaali. He is clearly miscast (heard that Rana Dagubatti was offered the role) and the role itself is one-dimensional. Strong heroes need strong villains, and when the ‘good force’ is double or more (as in two SRKs here!), the villain should match. This is the weakest link in the film. The rest of the cast is alright.

In such a film, the songs have no real role, and Anirudh Ravichander has nothing standout to show. His background music is happily much better. Technically astounding, the film’s cinematographer (G.K. Vishnu) and a bevy of brilliant action directors (Anal Arasu heading a long list) are the actual heroes of the film along with the VFX (by Ajay Devgn’s NY VFX , NayanthaWaala and presumably Red Chillies’ VFX department).

The target of this film is first, the masses, and last, the masses too. Given all that, despite the illogic, the unalloyed entertainment, entertainment and entertainment makes this film provide not one dull or loose moment in its long run of 169 minutes. And the masala element blended with the SRK charisma and the message that the film attempts to give with a full-on South mainstream flavor makes this film well worth the price of the ticket.


Red Chillies Entertainment’s Jawan Produced by: Gauri Khan  Directed by: Atlee Written by: Atlee, S. Ramanagirivasan & Sumit Arora Music: Anirudh Ravichander  Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Nayanthara, Sanya Malhotra, Priyamani, Vijay Sethupati,  Sunil Grover, Riddhi Dogra, Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, Girija Oak, Lehar Khan, Aaliyah Qureishi, Eijaz Khan, Sangay Tsheltrim, Seeza Saroj Mehta, Naresh Gosen, Ashlesha Thakur, Smita Tambe, Omkar Das Manikpuri, Raviraj Kande Sp. App.: Sanjay Dutt & Deepika Padukone & others




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here