Jawan Review | Atlee’s Bloated Lion King Struggles to Hold Together

It was pretty clear from the trailer that Shah Rukh Khan was playing a double role in Jawan and that too of Father and Son. The idea is basically Lion King and Atlee uses all his and his fellow directors’ themes in this package. Atlee is not a director who is known for presenting novel themes. Almost every film has an inspiration from a foreign language film. Thus, when I got in for his new film, Jawan, I was not expecting the concept to be unique. But there was this feeling that his packaging would be excellent. But unlike his other films, Jawan is one movie struggling to lift the graph after the initial surge of mass euphoria.

The movie is about this mystery man. He gets the attention of the people and media when he and his team of girls hijacks a metro train and kidnaps the daughter of a powerful weapons dealer Kaali. He then gets a whopping ransom from Kaali, which he instantly distributes to all those farmers in debt. The influential Kaali asks Officer Narmada Rai to find the mystery man, and what we see is Narmada’s investigation.

SPOILER ALERT! The review ahead might have spoilers. The stunning visual quality and the heroic entry of the mummied SRK surely give Jawan a terrific start. Atlee sort of provides the audience with the cue on what kind of entertainer they are about to witness. And that charm of a mass masala crowd-pleaser is there for the movie, even during that metro hijacking. But the film starts to lose its rhythm somewhere around that area where the hero’s intention to be this system-rectifier is revealed. The writing feeds its intentions in a very on-your-face tone, and even though the double role charm is revealed in the interval block, the balance is kind of lost.

Atlee knows how to use scale to create the kind of grandeur one would expect in a movie like Jawan. But the interconnecting appeal his scripts usually have is not really there in Jawan. I was curious to know what made the younger hero, Azad, use his father’s image to bring justice to ordinary people. But when it was revealed, it wasn’t even worth the curiosity. The fight by our hero is going from one thing to another, and its impact is happening on a national level. On paper, how our hero fixes the whole medical system in five hours might be very similar to what Shankar did in Muthalvan/Nayak. But when it comes to Shankar’s student Atlee, the conviction was not really there in the making. When Azad lectured the audience about the importance of casting your vote sensibly, I was genuinely disappointed as they had spoiled an opportunity to be pertinent through a masala film.

GK Vishnu’s color-saturated frames are very stylish, and even the costumes and sets are designed to complement that visual style. Ruben has a mammoth task of cutting between multiple flashbacks, and as I already said, after a point, the script is so loud and flat that even the set pieces can’t really pick the movie up from that dullness. Some of the fight sequences, especially the ones that involve kicks and punches, looked cool, while the visual effects-heavy set pieces like the truck heist featuring both Shah Rukhs looked way too over the top due to too much green screen. The editing in some sequences had some basic mistakes, as one could see the bad guys waiting for the heroes to make their moves. Anirudh’s background score as an album definitely has the kick. But when it comes to the movie, there were a few areas where the Rajakumari track pops out without much of an intimation.

As the rugged version in the initial parts of the movie, Shah Rukh Khan has the villain charm. But his actual age is actually a bit of a problem. The de-aging and makeup can’t seem to create a significant difference in looks and physicality between the two. Maybe because of that, Atlee created that funny bit where the younger Shah Rukh’s daughter calls the older Shah Rukh Papa. Shah Rukh Khan’s efforts to make the father and son distinctive sometimes make the acting look a bit goofy. Vijay Sethupathi, as the antagonist, gets a template villain role with not much depth to its credit. His signature humor made the overtly sentimental climax fight less cringe-worthy. With that Tamil accent in his dialogue delivery, it was really difficult to accept him as Kaali “Gaikwad.”

Nayanthara’s lady superstar stature was helpful for that character. But in terms of performance, the movie rarely offered her anything noteworthy. The extended cameo by Deepika Padukone was more memorable than Nayanathara’s weakly written Narmada. Priyamani, Sanya Malhotra, Sunil Grover, etc. are the other prominent names in the elaborate cast, along with a cameo by Sanjay Dutt (Finally, a Hindi actor wore Mundu properly on screen)

Structurally, you can see all the signature elements of an over-the-top Atlee film in Jawan. Flashback, revenge, getups, and double roles all make the movie’s peripheral outlook very enticing. But the motives are very familiar, and they have overcrowded the hero’s missions. Romance used to be one of the most memorable aspects of every Atlee movie, and Jawan would be one movie with the weakest romantic track in Atlee’s filmography. Farmer’s issue, Amma Paasam, Thankachi Paasam, a bad guy in a blazer with international affiliations, etc., are themes that have been recurrent in Tamil cinema in the last decade or so. Atlee has exported all that in a single package, and sadly, it couldn’t hold it convincingly.

Final Thoughts

Unlike Atlee's other films, Jawan is one movie struggling to lift the graph after the initial surge of mass euphoria.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.