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Jawan: Shah Rukh Khan and Atlee march on real-time political issues. Unapologetically.

Shah Rukh Khan and Atlee take an unabashed political stand without an iota of qualms.

Jawan: Shah Rukh Khan and Atlee march on real-time political issues. Unapologetically.
Shah Rukh Khan's Jawan was released on September 7
  • Shamayita Chakraborty

Last Updated: 09.17 AM, Sep 07, 2023

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Amid the ongoing India vs. Bharat name row, here comes Jawan with a recap of social issues that have been disturbing the sanity of this country over the years. From farmer suicides to 2017 Gorakhpur hospital deaths and unlawful arms dealings (with a twist) – Shah Rukh Khan and Atlee take an bold political stand in Jawan without an iota of qualms. At a time when the future of the voice of dissent is under scanner in this country, taking such a political stand in popular culture is surprisingly engaging.    

Jawan is an outright entertainer, make no mistake. Rather than taking a preachy path, the film blends world-class action sequences with love, camaraderie, blood, and even gore, in the right amount to hoot and dance at the hall. Not one, but two Shah Rukh Khans sweep you off your feet and make you fall in love with him over and over again. And yet, at every nook and corner of the film, there is a gentle reminder of the dark realities that exist. Here is a lowdown on the references we noticed:

Dr Kafeel Khan and the 2017 Gorakhpur hospital deaths:

For example, there is a reference to the 2017 Gorakhpur hospital deaths in which, 175 children died because of encephalitis due to the government’s negligence in supplying oxygen. Dr Kafeel Khan – one of the hospital's paediatricians – tried to save the children by buying oxygen with his own money and was hailed instantly as a hero by the public. However, he was later charged by the state government with dereliction of duty and engaging in private practice. He was arrested, left bankrupt and his family was attacked before he was finally acquitted in 2019.  

Jawan takes a bold reference to this real-life event through one of the members of SRK’s LIT girl gang. This is one of the most direct real references used in the film. 

Farmers’ suicide:

India which has a robust agrarian economy records a shameful and catastrophic figure in terms of farmer suicide cases. Such suicides are often attributed to the inability to replay loans taken from loan sharks as well as the banks. A large number of farmers in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, and other states died by suicide due to a lack of government support and its anti-farmer policies. In Jawan, Shah Rukh Khan emerges as a messiah who extorts money from the rich (pretty dramatically and unlawfully) and distributes it among farmers to repay their loans. 

Shah Rukh Khan in Jawan
Shah Rukh Khan in Jawan

Bhopal gas tragedy:

The 1984 Bhopal Disaster is considered to be one of the deadliest industrial accidents in the world. It has often been termed as a man-made disaster. Over 500,000 people around the plant were exposed to toxic gas. Not only thousands of people died but many more people bore permanent medical scars for generations. Jawan picks on the reference and focuses on anti-environment industrialists and their malafide attempts to manipulate the government. The film wages a war against toxic industrial establishments and Shah Rukh Khan and his team get these factories shut.     

Corruption in defence:

While this is the backbone issue in the film, Atlee takes a tangential route in the depiction of corruption in Indian defence. The film shows how officials are in cahoot with arm dealers to supply inferior quality arms to our jawans who subsequently die due to the corrupt practice. It reminds us of the faulty MiG aircraft crashes that took the lives of many of our Air Force personnel. Aamir Khan’s 2006 film Rang De Basanti takes on the issue of the MiG-21 crash directly while SRK's Jawan gives it a smart spin. 

‘Deshdrohi’ and SRK’s monologue to vote mindfully:

Jawan defines who is an antinational and most importantly, who is not. It blatantly shows how the corrupt system identifies at their convenience the voices of dissent as anti-nationals and how a gritty fight of a real patriot ablutes the label. The ‘hero’ settles scores with the real enemy of the state and clears his father’s name. While doing so, he broadcasts a live lecture to his fellow citizens to think and vote for their rightful leaders. In SRK’s monologue, the actor tells people to vote for those who work for society’s betterment and really take the nation forward without involving on religious and caste divisions. The monologue comes to an end when the hero has taken on and completely defeated corruption in the economy. 

Jawan exudes the vibes of women’s empowerment, equality, and camaraderie. Not only does it take into account real-life instances, but it has taken references from various other films to put forward a strong sense of integrity that our country upholds. It does not take the side of any political party as most of the above-mentioned issues are prevalent across political regimes for over the last 75 years. Instead, it pushes the agenda to ‘make our country great again’.