‘Jawan’: SRK is the Hero of Bharat that is India

By Renuka Vyavahare

Synopsis: A masked vigilante (Shah Rukh Khan), sets out to accelerate some right societal changes, in his own ways. He along with his army of superheroic women, works towards enabling justice by taking on a dangerous arms dealer Kali (Vijay Sethupathi).

Review: No one seems to be having more fun than Shah Rukh Khan, in his action-hero era. The romantic Raj and Rahuls have finally released SRK from their magnetic spell so he can wholeheartedly embrace the smoldering Pathaan and Jawan. In Atlee’s ambitious action drama, SRK is a jailer moonlighting as a vigilante, but he is also Captain Vikram Rathod, a patriot. What is his story?

Expect ample twists and turns in this tale of desi Robin Hood and his tech-savvy, gun-wielding angels. Jawan is peppered with meta and pop culture references. You will be reminded of Money Heist, Squid Game, The Dark Knight Rises, old Hindi songs and The Lion King but topping it all, is a heady mix of SRK-Atlee tadka.

Only SRK can use the James Bond line and give it his own twist. “Rathod. Vikram Rathod. Naam toh suna hoga?” Loverboy king Khan’s tough avatar treads a new path. It isn’t devoid of his soft, sensitive charm despite the vengeance and violence galore. The Bollywood superstar seamlessly slips into South sensation Atlee’s universe, a rather new territory for him. Together, they entertain in this high-octane action thriller that’s rooted in emotions and familial drama.

An ode to fatherhood and female power, Jawan’s biggest victory is its ability to juggle the personal, political, and social statements. You get the hint when SRK tells his nemesis, “Bete ko haath lagane se pehle, baap se baat kar.” He calling out the politics of religion and voicing his unwavering faith in democracy is the film’s highlight and the part that is bound to get the most claps. Writers Sumit Arora, Atlee and Ramanagirivasan get the dialoguebaazi right even as the story rotates between several moods – humour, tragedy and revenge.

While Pathaan was high on style, Jawan raises the stakes with a story and purpose, too. The women get their moment in the sun and aren’t treated secondary to the hero, no matter how many SRKs join the party. Deepika Padukone looks beautiful and is solid in an extended cameo. Clash of words, ethics and wigs between SRK and Vijay Sethupathi is fun to watch. Exuding strange humour and rage, Sethupathi makes for a formidable villain. While the brief romantic track between Nayanthara and SRK doesn’t quite work, the girl squad comprising Nayanthara, Priyamani, Sanya Malhotra, Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, Girija Oak and Lehar Khan make their presence felt.

Promoted as an Anirudh (Ravichander) musical, the film’s background score and songs complement its style and nature. Zinda Banda and Chaleya are the best in the lot, but the latter has the most abrupt placement. While there is nothing that distracts you from the plot that has a dime a dozen twists and turns, at 2 hours 49 mins, the film needed a tighter edit. For action buffs, there is ample adrenaline rush throughout the story. Do not miss the opening sequence.

Jawan feeds off SRK’s stardom. It isn’t intimidated by him.Like a paisa vasool desi thaali, it has all kinds of flavour to satiate your taste buds. The reincarnation of ‘action hero SRK’ hits the sweet spot.