Story, Screenplay, Direction: Atlee
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Vijay Sethupathi, Nayanthara, Deepika Padukone, Priyamani, Sunil Grover, Riddhi Dogra, Sanya Malhotra, Girija Oak, Lehar Khan, Sangeeta Bhattacharya, Mukesh Chhabra, Sanjay Dutt
Music: Anirudh Ravichander
Producer: Red Chillies Entertainment
Rating: 4.5 Moons
You want to know what real swag is? It’s the charming and elder Shah Rukh Khan (yes, he plays a double role) undertaking breathless action and death-defying stunts with a cigar in his mouth in Atlee’s blockbuster Jawan that released today. For the first time it can be honestly said that the South got it right with Bollywood. If you thought that SRK had comeback with Pathaan, then with Jawan the great actor signals that he is here to stay. The film is an out-and-out, top notch cinematic treat. All you need to do to enjoy it is to suspend your belief for 169 minutes and sit back for the ride of your life.
Jawan is a mass masala film with never a dull moment. Yes, there are flaws, but who’s counting when there’s twice as much as SRK on the screen in one of the actor’s finest performances. Bringing devilish Southern charm as the villain is Vijay Sethupathi. Add to that the combined glamour and sizzle of Nayanthara (in her Bollywood debut) and Deepika Padukone and you know that Jawan is going to be one rollicking party from start to end. Add Sanjay Dutt to this melting pot of talent, even in a cameo, and the pot threatens to simmer over with action and entertainment. The other actresses, like Sanya Malhotra and Priyamani, have little to do, but they are there.
Atlee presents SRK like you have seldom seen him before. He’s high on the octane action, more than everything he’s done in Pathaan, but never once loses the command of his irrepressible wit and onscreen naughtiness. It is his show from the start. And it’s a double treat to see him as father and son in Atlee’s commercial thriller and massy entertainer. There’s nothing that he cannot do and get it right. Jawan has it all in abundance, action, drama, song and romance. Plus, a rather complicated but compelling story of the corruption at various levels in the administration that affects the common man at every level starting with farmers committing suicide in their fields, the shoddy state of healthcare and shady defence deals culminating in a powerful social commentary from SRK at the end.
Jawan starts in the present day and goes 30 years ahead with occasional uses of flashback to explain what’s happening, how and why. There are several short stories with elaborate flashback justifying the current actions without really breaking the flow. There are two parallel stories. Narmada (Nayanthara), head of Force One, is looking for Vikram Rathore (SRK) who risked the lives of 376 passengers with a perfect hijack on the metro. The other story has Narmada and Azad Rathore (also SRK) in love and getting married. Kalee (Vijay Sethupathi, the delightful baddie) is an arms dealer who has a history with Vikram and Azad and is a big part of their story. SRK also has an army of girls incarcerated in a women’s prison who form an integral part of the story. Doctor Eram (Sanya Malhotra) was wrongly framed in the killing of 57 innocent kids while Kalki (Lehar Khan) as a farmer’s daughter wants to avenge her father’s suicide.
SRK is in many avatars in Jawan. You don’t know which to like more. His bald, jaunty look or with the grey hair and cigar in his mouth. Both have unmatched swag. Vijay Sethupathi is powerful and menacing. His confrontations with SRK are brilliantly written and shot with humour. Nayanthara sadly has little chemistry with the younger SRK though Deepika Padukone (as Aishwarya, in a special appearance as the elder SRK’s wife) has a dance number with him that is Chennai Express all over again. The screenplay by Atlee and S. Ramanagirivasan is gripping and there’s not a single dull moment. There’s really too much happening to tell. Jawan is best watched on screen. It is absolute paisa vasool.