Jawan (2023) Review: A Resurgence with Familiar Brilliance

jawan 2023 review

Bollywood’s iconic superstar, Shah Rukh Khan, has made an eagerly awaited comeback with “Jawan” (which translates to “Soldier” in Hindi). This high-octane action-adventure film takes audiences on a thrilling ride, introducing us to a well-meaning yet enigmatic antihero and his formidable team of gun-wielding hostage-takers.

Shah Rukh Khan’s resurgence began a year earlier with a memorable cameo in “Brahmastra Part One: Shiva” and gained momentum in January with the release of “Pathaan,” a spy thriller and the latest installment in the Yash Raj cinematic universe. “Jawan” is poised to delight both Khan’s ardent fans and those new to his cinematic charisma, as he confidently embraces familiar tropes with added conviction and polish.

A Red Chillies Production

“Jawan” is not just another Bollywood venture; it is a product of Shah Rukh Khan and his wife Gauri Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment production company. Consequently, the film boasts a meticulously navigated plot and conventional mood swings, aligning with the established expectations of a Shah Rukh Khan film.

It is important to remember that “Jawan” is unmistakably a Shah Rukh Khan vehicle, complete with its formulaic elements. However, at times, the film leans heavily on trying to convince the audience that Khan’s mysterious antihero remains an enigma.

A Hostage Situation Unveils Azad

The film’s narrative kicks off with a riveting flashback action sequence, setting the stage for an intense ride. In a dramatic twist, Khan’s character, later revealed as Azad, the warden of a women’s prison, takes a train full of commuters hostage.

He commits a seemingly heinous act, executing a woman in a burqa while donning a comically exaggerated bald cap, only to dramatically reveal his true appearance shortly after. Azad, with a raspy determination, lays out his unorthodox demands to the enraged negotiator, Narmada (Nayanthara): force the Agriculture Minister to alleviate the crippling loans burdening destitute farmers, or more lives will be lost.

A Story of Twists and Turns

“Jawan” swiftly moves from one plot twist to another, maintaining a brisk pace that almost eclipses the familiarity of its storyline and set pieces. Some plot developments are foreseeable, such as Azad’s romantic involvement with Narmada and his efforts to combat government corruption through dramatic, media-fueled demonstrations.

Azad presents himself as a champion of the common people, dancing among terrified commuters as he passionately denounces corrupt public servants who betray the republic.

An Intriguing Subplot

The film cleverly weaves an entertaining subplot connecting Narmada and Azad’s story with the film’s opening scene set thirty years prior in an unnamed village, possibly near India’s border. If you are familiar with Shah Rukh Khan’s filmography, the connection between these subplots might not come as a shock, but it remains delightful nonetheless. A significant plot twist unfolds in the latter half of the film, personalizing Azad’s mission in a way that sets this endeavor apart from his previous exploits.

The Emergence of a Formidable Antagonist

In “Jawan,” a new adversary emerges in the form of a nefarious weapons dealer named Kalee, played by Vijay Sethupathi. Kalee’s malevolence matches his violence, adding complexity to the story’s conflict. The film also boasts a surprise cameo by a prominent Bollywood star, which, if you pay attention during the opening credits, isn’t much of a spoiler.

Additionally, keep an eye out for a captivating duet dance sequence featuring Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone, who display remarkable chemistry, possibly knowing they don’t need to vie for the audience’s affection. While some of the fight scenes are flamboyantly grandiose, they suffer from excessive editing and lackluster direction, remaining loud and predictable yet far from dull.

A Potpourri of Subplots

One aspect that prevents “Jawan” from achieving more than Khan’s previous films is its inclusion of nearly every masala-style subplot imaginable.

Nevertheless, what sets “Jawan” apart is its adept handling of these intricate plot twists and turns. Credit is due to director Atlee, a former assistant director with credits that include the Rajinikanth-starrer “Enthiran” and its sequel, “2.0,” as well as his creative team.

Khan’s Relaxed Performance

Above all, “Jawan” benefits from Shah Rukh Khan’s visibly relaxed performance, a departure from his more frenetic roles of the past. Khan gracefully navigates his repertoire of mannerisms and poses, effortlessly slipping into the skin of his character.

He appears particularly at ease during the film’s musical interludes and delivers those iconic Blue Steel glances whenever he turns to pout or engage with viewers and co-stars. Shah Rukh Khan remains a star par excellence, and “Jawan” makes excellent use of his enduring appeal.

A Compelling Speech and Social Commentary

“Jawan” even allows Khan to shine in a somewhat corny yet impassioned speech later in the film. As Azad, Khan reminds us of our shared apathy as citizens who, despite good intentions, have not always exercised sound judgment when selecting government officials. With a general election approaching in India, “Jawan” could have taken more substantial risks, but its efforts to engage with pressing societal issues are commendable.

Conclusion: Shah Rukh Khan’s Return

In conclusion, “Jawan” marks Shah Rukh Khan’s triumphant return, replete with the signature elements that have endeared him to legions of fans. While it does indulge in a surfeit of subplots, the film distinguishes itself with its adept handling of narrative twists. Director Atlee and his creative team deserve praise for orchestrating this intricate tapestry.

Most significantly, Khan’s relaxed performance, combined with his enduring star power, ensures that “Jawan” is a captivating cinematic experience. As Shah Rukh Khan continues to reign as a Bollywood icon, “Jawan” reaffirms his status as the ultimate superstar.

Scroll to Top