Jawan Review: In this film directed by Atlee and starring Nayanthara, Shah Rukh Khan shines brilliantly.
The release of a Shah Rukh Khan film is nothing less than a festival, and I say this with complete confidence because it’s not every day that you get to watch a packed theater for a 6 AM show. After the explosive start with the blockbuster ‘Pathan’, SRK has taken his game to a whole new level in ‘Jawan’ – filled with high-octane action and immense drama. Writer-director Atlee presents Khan in an entirely new avatar – tough, gritty, yet not devoid of his trademark wit.
From start to finish, ‘Jawan’ belongs to SRK, and it’s delightful to see him in a dual role. There’s nothing he can’t do, from his heroic entry scenes to the fight sequences, and even dance numbers; there’s a belief in his abilities that he instills in you. At the age of 57, turning 58 in November, Shah Rukh amazes with his action.
Looking at what he has done in ‘Young’, it feels like ‘Pathan’ was merely a teaser. Atlee ensures that in his debut Hindi direction, he doesn’t disappoint the audience, blending all elements of commercial cinema to create a comprehensive entertainer.
‘Jawan’ doesn’t conform to any predefined template or tropes and offers everything that makes for an engaging and entertaining watch. Action, drama, songs, and romance – it’s all abundant in this commercial, masala potboiler. I won’t even say ‘leave your brain at home’; please bring it along because it touches on some important issues.
This nearly 3-hour film tells a compelling story of rampant corruption at various levels in the system that deeply impacts ordinary citizens. Thankfully, it doesn’t preach at any point, although it ventures into the realm of social commentary briefly, especially towards the end with Shah Rukh’s monologue.
The non-linear narrative of ‘Jawan’ begins in the present and takes you 30 years ahead, using flashbacks to explain why and how. I won’t divulge the major plot points as they could spoil the experience. But, it’s safe to say that ‘Jawan’ is not entirely a revenge drama; each sequence is a small story in itself with an extensive flashback argument for current actions.
In some ways, it also feels a bit overstretched as I lost track of the story-telling at times. ‘Young’ doesn’t keep you glued to a single narrative for long, swiftly moving to the next, disrupting the flow.
What stands out in ‘Jawan’ is the meticulously choreographed action, shot in a way that provides a complete cinematic experience. The Bollywood meets South style becomes apparent when you witness a lot of South flavor, especially in the slow-motion shots, gravity-defying stunts, and the hero’s god-like status.
A full-on action film, it’s rooted in a burning issue of farmer suicides due to non-repayment of small-scale bank loans. Considering the nationwide farmer protests of the past year, it immediately strikes a chord, forcing you to ponder. There’s a moment where a farmer is shown hanging from a tree in a flash, a scene that sends shivers down your spine.
In another strand, ‘Jawang’ touches upon corruption in the healthcare system and the sorry state of government hospitals. The film swiftly transitions from an action-packed narrative to a lighter one. It runs two parallel stories. In one, Narmada (Nayanthara), the head of Force One, is hunting for Vikram Rathod (SRK), who executed a heinous mass kidnapping of 376 passengers, while in the other, Narmada and Azad Rathod (also SRK) fall in love.
In between, the antagonist, Kali (Vijay Sethupathi), a weapons dealer, has a history with Vikram Rathod, and Azad slowly becomes part of their story.
Shah Rukh Khan’s legion of female fans, known as the SRKian Army, will be pleased to know that each of them shines and becomes an integral part of the film’s story and screenplay. Dr. Iram (Sanya Malhotra) is falsely implicated in the murder of 57 innocent children and imprisoned, while Khaki (Lahar Khan), a farmer’s daughter, seeks revenge for her father’s death. Ethical hacker Helena (Sanjeeda Bhattacharya) and Lakshmi (Priyamani) as the neighbor’s daughter are intriguing characters. With their leaders, they all introduce unwavering resolve, strong beliefs, and patience.
For each stunt in his plan, Shah Rukh adopts a new persona and succeeds in each of his fan-pleasing endeavors. Particularly, the Metro hijack sequence, where Khan sports a bald look that garnered much attention after the teaser release, revisits his earlier appearance. As the younger Azad, he lures with his lover-boy image, while as Vikram, with grey hair and a cigarette in his mouth, he exudes swag without parallel.
Alongside SRK’s stardom, Vijay Sethupathi enters with his charm and gravitas. His parts are powerful and menacing. In his youthful and elderly avatars, Sethupathi doesn’t let go of the fear that he instills through his presence. The climax confrontation with Vikram is well-written and laced with humor. Nayanthara brings freshness, and every time she appears on screen, her welcome is accentuated with slow-motion shots.
Unfortunately, the chemistry between her and Khan falls flat and is quite uninspiring. On the other hand, Deepika Padukone, as Vikram Rathod’s wife Aishwarya, in a special appearance, is worth watching. There’s even a dance number for both of them, reminiscent of ‘Chennai Express,’ that refreshes old memories. Sunil Grover as Officer Irani is an enigma, and you wish there was more to his character and more to do for him.
The screenplay of ‘Jawan’, written by Atlee and S. Ramana Girivasan, is engaging and entertaining, but given the scale of the film, the dialogues, apart from a few one-liners like Shah Rukh saying, ‘Talk to your father before touching the son,’ are quite forgettable and average.
Nevertheless, ‘Jawan’ is a fantastic watch that won’t give you a dull moment. Keep your eyes and mind glued to the screen because there’s so much to take in, and you wouldn’t want to miss or not understand why things are happening the first time around. Keep an eye out for those money-worthy moments of sheer brilliance.