Onto the biggie of the week but before that I have a life update. For those of you who have been inquiring(and for those who are unaware) as to where has Farhad disappeared, and why are there no new review through the week, or what happened to the review of Jawan(here it is by the way), I have not been keeping well. Yes, health finally caught up wherein the entire last week had me spirally downwards with high fever and ultra weakness that made it difficult for me to even get out of bed. In between with great difficulty, I watched Haddi and penned a review for it. But as a result of that Jawan got delayed. Having said that, there was no way I was missing out on the Jawan theatrical experience, not for this effing little petty illness of mine. With that, I decided to flex my muscles and fight through my weakness to finally venture into watching Jawan.
The year 2023 will go down in history as the year of Shahrukh Khan who was completely written off by the end of 2018. There was PR machinery terming him as ‘finished’ after a string of flops, thus forcing him to take a 5 year hiatus. And it was all worth the wait when Pathaan was out earlier this year. The entire mood of the country changed as people had lined up to get a glimpse of their favourite superstar. And while Pathaan was a statement of SRK to mark his arrival and to eliminate the ‘Boycott Gang’, all eyes were firmly placed on Jawan, with questions being raised whether it would be bigger than Pathaan.
SRK is a creative genius and he has implemented something that I have been voicing for so long. The Hindi Film Industry was guilty of remaking so many films from down South almost across the entire last year wherein the approach should have been to collaborate with the top directors and technicians while bringing all industries a step closer. And that is what SRK has managed to do here with his collaboration with Atlee. This is the way forward amd if ever there is a creative formula that needs to be replicated, it is THIS! And the marketing strategy of Jawan to not reveal the story but to reveal the various looks of SRK through the prevue and later the trailer with a booming Anirudh BGM is something that needs to be admired. While these factors had made me extremely curious, the untimely dip in my health had delayed my trip to the theatre to watch Jawan. But I just had had enough and I finally decided to venture into Jawan with a bit of flex in my stride. So then is Jawan worth your time, who am I even kidding, you are going to watch it anyway. But here are my thoughts on it…..Ready?? Ready To Go Chief!
Story & Screenplay
To avoid any spoilers, I shall continue to keep the plot of Jawan under wraps. All you need to know is that this is an Anti-Establishment film and perhaps the first attempt in doing so by a Hindi movie superstar since Aamir Khan in Rang De Basanti. And this itself was a refreshing aspect of the story which is essentially in the mass masala entertainer space. The moment a massy entertainer hits the right kind of emotions with its theme, simply from the point of view of what it wishes to convey, you will have a winner on your hands. And that is what Jawan is, a winner all the way despite its typical inclusion of the regular commercial tropes. The screenplay standing at almost 170 minutes did seem to be daunting to begin with(given my delicate health too), but it delivered exactly on what it had promised -Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment. And yes, there was a poignant inclusion of the things going on in the country that were smartly used as an undercurrent.
The biggest challenge for the makers here was to make this over the top drama believable to the viewers. I wasn’t particularly impressed previously with one such film Gadar 2 which continued to be senseless and ridiculous with each passing minute. But thankfully, that is not the case with Jawan. The drama does open with an elaborate sequence of a bunch of villagers finding an injured body of a man whom they decide to take care. Soon while their village is attacked, the savior for the villagers comes in the form of the same man whom they had rescued. The opening sequence itself was enough to raise the right kind of sentiments and euphoria around the protagonist who was met with a huge round of applause. But the writers make their intentions clear with the introduction of the anti-establishment theme of the film which is kick started in that terrific ‘metro’ sequence that had me thoroughly invested in the proceedings while being acquainted with the other players of the equation. It was a promising start with all the right kinds of ingredients for a mass masala entertainer!
The proceedings are entertaining despite the structure of the screenplay threatening to be a collection of different scenes wherein you do have to take a leap of faith with the chain of events that follow. Luckily, the writers do manage the fillers well such that the events are not quite distracting or deviating from the main plot. The romantic angle is sweet and thankfully it doesn’t overstay its welcome. There was some subtle twists and turns that keep painting a clearer picture of where the story is headed along with its roots of origin, while continuing to focus on a couple of anti-establishment issues which are surface-level but relevant. This is inclusive of the massive twist at the halfway mark that contributes to a memorable interval block, setting up things wonderfully well for things to take shape in the second hour.
The second hour doesn’t allow the momentum to drop almost kicking into the elaborate flashback sequence immediately. During this period, it also continues to touch upon another important issue as an undercurrent while focusing on the character traits of atleast a couple of characters who have made an appearance in the first hour. So you are acquainted with the nemesis of the protagonist a little better in the events leading up to the way things stand in the current timeline. The events continue to be entertaining post the extended flashback with King Khan breaking the fourth wall in a very important scene that was a clear potshot to a political party whose name starts with a ‘B’, ends with a ‘P’ and has a letter that comes after ‘I’ in the middle, while looking straight in the eyes of the viewer. While the elaborate events leading up to the final act were good, I felt that the finale act was a tad underwhelming and a little too simplistic. But overall if you are an SRK fan, you will love every minute of the screenplay which was a party in itself. And by the way, I see a glimmer of hope in 2024 now(if you know, you know).
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are massy and carefully curated to generate bouts of whistles and claps while integrating subtle digs at a few prominent personalities as well(genius writing). The music by Anirudh is good however it isn’t one of his best work by any stretch of imagination. That said, the core strength of Anirudh is producing some blaring BGM soundtracks that would elevate the emotions in the scene to a whole new level. And that is exactly what the BGM serves including an SRK number which I feel would be played out in his future massy ventures, something on the lines of ‘Superstar Rajni’ or ‘Thalapathy Vijay’ while their names flash onscreen. The cinematography is good capturing some well choreographed action sequences which did have multiple slow motion shots(usually a deterrent) but edited so well that I didn’t quite mind them. Director Atlee does know how to cook up a mass masala entertainer and he does exactly that. It is a nonchalant and an unabashed approach filled with style and substance while playing to the strengths of his protagonist that truly makes the direction shine! It was a celebration of King Khan yet again, second time this year after Pathaan.
The performances are pretty good here. Sanjay Dutt as Madhavan lends a starry presence to his role. Sangay Tsheltrim as Juju, Eijaz Khan as Manish, Ridhi Dogra as Kaveri Amma(was that a Swades Homage right there?), Bharat Raj as Irai and Kenny Basumatary as Naazir have their moments to shine, as do Aaliyah Qureshi, Astha Agarwal, Ashlesha Thakur and Girija Oak. Sanjeeta Bhattacharya as Helena has a good presence onscreen in a job well done. Priyamani as Lakshmi delivers a dignified performance. Sanya Malhotra as Eeram has such expressive eyes and she adds the much needed intensity to her character really well. Lehar Khan as Kalki is outstanding and delivers a moving act. And one huge applause to these woman for kicking off the metro scene on a high!
Sunil Grover as Irani pulls off his role with sincerity but with a twist in the tale. Deepika Padukone as Aishwarya is phenomenal and really ascends a part of the second hour with her heartfelt performance. Vijay Sethupathi as Kaali had a relatively lesser screen time but he played the perfect nemesis to the protagonist. Also, there is something about him mouthing Hindi lines that instantly hits home. His effortlessness was for everyone to watch and learn. Nayanthara as Narmada looks beautiful and has a towering presence onscreen. She pulls off her character with dollops of grace and I really wish that she continues to do more Hindi work going forward.
The show though undoubtedly belongs to Shahrukh Khan aka Badshah Khan aka Jawan. There is a sense of swagger to his twin performances, be it in his body language or his heavy baritone and with a streak of comedy and charm that makes you want to root for him every single time. And when he comes down to doing ‘mass’, no one is in his viscinity! It was another towering act by an actor who is aging like fine wine, oh wait …is he even aging?
Jawan is an anti-establishment blockbuster with a resounding SRK act that ticks all the right boxes for a mass masala entertainer while adding spine to the Hindi Film Industry which cannot be taken for granted by outer forces anymore! Available in a theatre near you.