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JAWAN - Surprises as an anti-establishment mainstream Hindi film backed by one of the biggest icons of Hindi Cinema post RANG DE BASANTI. It brings SPINE back into Hindi Cinema. (Movie Notes by Bobby Sing)

08 Sep, 2023 | Just In / Movie Reviews / 2023 Releases

JAWAN was expected to be another masala entertainer on the lines of PATHAN mainly eyeing the box office satisfying the Hindi film viewers. It was being talked about as another taut thriller from writer-director Atlee taking its inspiration from films like AAKHREE RAASTA which itself was a remake of its Tamil original.
However, JAWAN surprisingly comes up as an anti-establishment mainstream thriller, the indication of which was neither there in its promotional material nor pre-release hype. The brave move was not expected, particularly in the present scenario of biased viewership/praises and coloured social discussions all over. So, this pleasant surprise gets some deserving brownie points for its bold conception bringing forward the dark reality.
But keeping this discussion about its rare genre for the later part of the write-up, I would first like to bluntly state where JAWAN falters and does not work as the most awaited Bollywood biggie. 
The biggest drawback of the film is its music/songs including the background score which is loud, uninventive, and looks like heard before. The collective impact of these musical elements adds nothing to the narrative, remaining poor to average. And it was this music part, that played a major role in the success of PATHAN.
Second - JAWAN wastes talented names like Sanya Malhotra, Priyamani, Riddhi Dogra, Sunil Grover, and even Vijay Sethupathi. While the others get almost nothing to deliver, the weird characterisation of Sethupathi (with a strange wig) annoys and he does not get any worthy or powerful representation as the film’s villain. I felt the same for the timely cameo of Sanjay Dutt missing a solid punch. He duly gets cheers in the theatre but the inclusion deserved a much better-written cameo for the veteran.
Third – The film begins at a confusing and unengaging note in an undisclosed region, moves at a too-fast pace, and thus misses the calm pauses or stay required in the emotional sequences depicting suicides, mass deaths, and more. 
Lastly, clearing the doubts, though it is a tale of father and son, it is not related to the storyline of Aakhree Raasta, as here they are not in conflict with each other. Plus, this is not any regular SRK film focusing on romance and lighter moments, which might disappoint many.
Amongst all these shortcomings, then, what forces me to praise the film with reference to RANG DE BASANTI?
To begin with, JAWAN is a typical South cinema film made in Hindi. It is an extension of Atlee’s style of inspired filmmaking with a purpose. So, I will not be surprised if many feel like watching a South explosive thriller dubbed in Hindi titled JAWAN. And that is exactly where lies the catch.
If you are a regular viewer of South cinema and their major mainstream movies, then you will agree that they very well know how to blow up the image of their star and present him in a larger-than-life manner satisfying their core audience. Giving them the credit, the South Cinema still remembers the importance of The ENTRY of their star on screen and how to brighten it up with an explosion. Sadly, Hindi filmmakers have largely forgotten this undeniable feature of our cinema in their realistic kind of filmmaking over the last decade or more.
JAWAN plays this card well and plays it thrice with both the father and the son’s intro and when they together tear up the screen in a well-conceived action sequence.
While the world talks about scriptwriting in three acts, we in India write our scripts keeping in mind the beginning, the end, and The INTERVAL. The filmmakers in the South again have not forgotten this important part of our Indian cinema and thus you will find their most impactful scene coming right before the intermission without an exception. Friends not into watching South cinema can easily get that fact-checked in films of Rajamouli, famous in the Hindi belt. Atlee does the same in his popular films, also visible in JAWAN making a solid impact.
Shah Rukh Khan got the taste of it in PATHAN doing hardcore action for the first time. But JAWAN does that much better and it is Atlee’s fiery build-up that presents SRK like never before on screen playing a young jailer and an old ex-military officer together fighting against the corrupt system. His portrayal in different get-ups is a treat to watch and the same can also be said for the fans of both Nayanthara and Deepika Padukone shining in their limited appearances.
Coming to the most important part of the write-up, even the eagerly awaited, mega-budget, and hugely hyped films of the South do not shy away from incorporating burning social issues into their storyline, strongly conveying a social message to the people as well as the authorities. They don’t care if it appears to be a forced inclusion to the critics, but they do it and make sure it leaves a thought-provoking impact on the viewers along with the expected entertainment. 
This has been a continuing feature of their films for the last two decades irrespective of the changes in the ruling governments. For instance, the most brutal films on casteism and social and police injustice have been made in the South, supported by the biggest names in their industry contributing to their movement of fearless movie-making. For the unaware, you will also find major South films made on serious social issues like health deterioration due to fast food consumption and adulteration, financial fraud, misleading corporations, and much more. 
Strangely, this important aspect of cinema, questioning the authorities, started vanishing from our Hindi films in the last two decades of the new millennium. It was even mellowed down in many remakes of the South Originals to avoid controversies. And therefore, the spine was strongly missing from our Hindi cinema, to say the least. 
If one tries to recall an anti-establishment Hindi film boldly pointing toward the social, political, and corporate injustice in our society, then only RANG DE BASANTI comes to mind, released more than 17 years back in 2006.
JAWAN brings that important genre back to Hindi Cinema and courageously plays that card well without caring about the results. The credit of which unarguably goes to Atlee and South Cinema along with Shah Rukh Khan. 
Several sequences in JAWAN make you recall the real-life instances (read tragedies) reported in recent times. It brings forward the issue of farmers committing suicide due to the burden of loans. The very first sequence of the film asks why the authorities forget and forgive thousands of crores of loans given to big businessmen but punish and penalize poor farmers for loans of just a few thousand. 
Representing woman-power, JAWAN also features a girls-gang helping in the protagonist’s missions against social injustice. One of the backstories of a lady doctor in the gang points towards the infamous case of a doctor, blamed and sentenced for the deaths of kids in a hospital due to a shortage of oxygen.
In another sequence, a politician is shown clearly lying in his public speech about the makeover of the hospital in his region equipped with all the necessary and latest facilities. JAWAN teaches him a lesson taking him to the same hospital for an immediate operation.
Most importantly, it brings back the horrors of RANG DE BASANTI with its main sub-plot showcasing faulty weapons supplied to the military forces who find their guns not working on the field, resulting in several soldiers dying on the spot. RDB pointed towards faulty aircraft causing causalities 17 years back.
Focusing on such relevant issues, JAWAN even goes further, reminding the viewers, the value of their vote breaking the fourth wall. Plus, Atlee also dares to bring in the most questioned election-machine of the new era in his narrative, carefully avoiding any controversy.
Quoting some worth-watching classics that came to my mind while going through the film - a heart-wrenching sequence of torturing the helpless farmer in front of his wife and daughter, reminded me of a similar but even more powerful sequence in the highly recommended PARIYERUM PERUMAL (Tamil/2018). And then the inmate girls-gang secretly helping their jailer, brought back the memories of one of my favourite films NEW DELHI which was a remake of its Malayalam original having the same title. If you haven’t seen these films then do watch them at the earliest and enlighten yourself.
Coming back to JAWAN, neither it is a perfect film, nor a great political thriller heavily relying and stressing upon its Star enigma.
But it is an important film as it brings back courage into Hindi cinema, rising above the routine of making movies against terrorism and Pakistan. It talks about the inner enemy, the corrupt system that dosen’t care about human life and just treats them as voters, only to be remembered and respected before Elections.
It is a rare film of the present times. RARE because it dares to challenge the system, led by one of the biggest icons of Bollywood, boldly & responsibly raising a social-political debate in the new INDIA/BHARAT. It takes guts and balls to make such a movie in the scenario when others are quickly changing their taglines from India to Bharat even before any clear announcement made by the authorities. And that is a reason enough to go for it and give it a thought along with SRK and Atlee.
Besides, I have been strongly praising the South Cinema since the first decade of the new millennium, when even the DVDs were hard to find with English subtitles. The main reason behind that praise was their introspective amalgamation of action, thrill, romance, and social-political issues featuring the mega-stars, keeping alive the spirit of Indian cinema.
Now if the same has thankfully come to Hindi films after all these years, then it will be the height of hypocrisy if I do not shower equal praises upon JAWAN raising many valid questions about our present social and political system.
In specific words, if we can praise both the young and experienced icons of South, watching their social-political thrillers dubbed in Hindi on YouTube and OTT portals, then why we should not praise our own SRK supporting a similar bold and socially relevant film coming after a gap of almost two decades making a significant breakthrough in Hindi cinema.
So, it does not matter if JAWAN doesn’t get any appreciation from a specific section for their own reasons. For me, this film is a gutsy trendsetter and a fearless attempt made by an icon, who waited for his film to speak for him, instead of anything else. Hence, if this is considered to be a political statement made through a film, then be it.
JAWAN has brought The Spine back into Hindi cinema and that is more important than any kind of box office success, records, or critical praise.
Rating: Overall, JAWAAN gets 3 STARS as a new release for its cinematic merits and flaws. But gets EXTRA PRAISE for its courage shown in the present scenario re-introducing a lost genre in Hindi cinema of anti-establishment movies.
Bobby Sing
(8th Sept. 2023)
NOTE : The irony of the present times is that we remain stuck on the crores a film earns on its release or just our like and dislike.
But rarely discuss the content, bravely asking the socially relevant questions in films such as OMG2 and JAWAN.

Tags : JAWAN Movie Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, New Hindi Films Reviews by Bobbyb Sing, New Bollywood Movies Reviews by Bobby Sing, Shah Rukh Khan and Atlee JAWAN
08 Sep 2023 / Comments ( 3 )
Shakil warsi

Dear Bobby sing, 

I am in Washington and read your review of  Jawan. You are Frank honest as always. Your chosen words in your write up tell a lot behind the lines. That also requires spine. 
I am going to watch Jawaan today in Washington with family. Can't wait  to return India and watch it. The tickets in Washington is $10 , so we are spending $ 50 including cab . Haaaaa maza aayega

Shakil Warsi


Excellent review

. Saw the movie last week n had not read detailed reviews b4.


Agree with most of ur points yet romentic track between nayatara n srk n sanjay dutt part seemed weakest part of the movie.


Thank you for brave n in depth reviewing. 

Shakil Warsi

Honest review , detailed and to the point athe same  time.....a great analysis of a movie from you as always. Thanks

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