If Pathaan was a gunfire, Jawan is a bomb blast - one that you were expecting but one that you possibly weren't entirely prepared for. After being slick, hot, fashionable even in Pathaan, Khan is going rustic, rugged but still hot in Jawan as he conquers the screen again with the juggernaut of a film that this is.
A review for a film like this might seem unnecessary but I assure you, as you go on to read this piece, you will only feel better about your decision to definitely watch the film or pensive as to why haven't you thought on it yet. Having seen Jawan in the theaters with a nearly housefull audience, here is what I thought about it-
The Legend of Shah Rukh Khan & His Ability To Surrender
SRK's legend continues to grow bigger and bigger with every film, where after three decades in this industry, he is reminding everyone what he means to us, and what he brings to the table across all facets. But what makes Jawan a bigger feat for Khan is how radically different it is from what you expect of Khan to be in. He is still the king of swagger and slo-mo entry scenes, one that only a select few are able to pull off; he is still able to charm the hell out of you by his cheekiness and sheer screen presence - but with Jawan, he surrenders himself to director Atlee's vision in a manner you didn't expect it to happen.
A director, who is not just a fan but pretty much in love with the superstar he is working with, Atlee not only justifies the aura of SRK on-screen but stays rooted to the filmmaking style he is known for. In layman's terms, Jawan is as South-Indian (Tamil & Telugu specifically) in its execution of masala films as you can imagine it to be. But to be watching the Hindi film megastar at the centre of all these tropes is pleasantly refreshing. Normally, directors being in love with their actors can backfire owing to an overdose of indulgence but Jawan allows Atlee's love for SRK to be on full display unabashedly.
Political, Rapid & Stuffed
It wouldn't be unfair to say that Jawan is Khan's most political film yet and given that he has such a long career, that is a surprise. Atlee goes Bigil mode with women empowerment but thankfully is much more pronounced and subtle here in Jawan with his team of ladies that SRK leads. Right from farmer rights, lack of good healthcare, supply of faulty weaponry to the army and so on - Jawan is a glass full of water that is brimming and ready to overflow, and it does too, at a few instances.
Another signature style of cinema down south is the sheer rapidness with which scenes move, at times almost feeling like there is an editing glitch (but it isn't). In an array of scenes, the jumps from one moment to another are extremely rapid, quick and difficult to catch on. It works to a large extent owing to how much the makers are trying to show us in a 2 hour 50 minute film but also becomes tough to latch on sometimes. The dubbing is also patchy at a few places with scenes involving Nayanthara and Vijay Sethupathi, especially but that's understandable.
Just Getting to Work With Shah Rukh Khan, Surprises & Music
Jawan boasts of such an alluring ensemble but it almost seems like a majority of them only signed up to be in the film for the sheer fact that they get a chance to work with King Khan himself! Even though popular names like Priyamani and Sanya Malhotra get a backstory and arc, their presence is still felt only in some moments but they would surely not mind that! Even Nayanthara, who visibly struggles with Hindi has to go through a struggle to create a mark. Her love story with SRK is probably the least impressive thing about the film. Sethupathi is barely present in the first half but shines in the second half and again, to be actually seeing him with SRK head-to-head is just a dream sight.
Then comes the surprises. I have to credit the makers for shooting one such surprise that not many would at all be aware about this it makes a huge impact and in fact, the one that you were expecting - might not happen at all! (Read between the lines)
And of course, the music. The master himself, Anirudh is once again at his best when it comes to the background score where not one scene seems overstuffed or terribly loud - the whistle worthy moments and the big reveals are aptly aided by the music playing in the background. However, I have to admit that the album overall is a miss for me where except Chaleya and the Tamil version of Zinda Banda, no song entirely leaves an impression as it would have intended to.
The References & Not-the End
One would think that for a film like Jawan, how can there any scope for references or nuggets? There is plenty of that in Jawan. One of the most not-so-obvious ones was the fact that Ridhi Dogra plays 'Kaveri Amma' to Khan's character - a hat tip to his character's guardian of sorts in Swades where Kishori Ballal played Kaveri Amma.
Apart from this, the robinhood nature of his character and the reasons behind the same night remind you a lot of Aparichit (Anniyan) at several occasions. The Naam to suna hoga dialogue and one surprise cameo also getting their own reference - Jawan has some amazing Easter eggs to enjoy. Hell, there is even a Mission Impossible-esque feel to the film but because of the action but because of something else (if revealed, would be a major spoiler).
And then of course, as one would have probably expected, the film ends in a way that possibility is open for a future sequel, if ever it happens. I do love the idea of it already!
It is seemingly a given that only Shah Rukh Khan is capable of pulling off a stuffed, progressive, woke yet massy potboiler like Jawan. But even then, the superstar deserves all the extra credit for being able to be the mammoth superstar he is off-screen while wowing us on-screen as we enjoy this ride of what seems like a time machine.
SRK is having back-to-back successes, everyone is going back to the movies, and the talk about SRK being the King is hotter than ever. Welcome to the future!
Rating - **** (4/5)