OTTplay Logo
settings icon
profile icon

Jawan movie review: Shah Rukh Khan plays a star with a spine in this Atlee film

Jawan movie review: Shah Rukh Khan's Jawan feels timely in the run-up to the election season.

Jawan movie review: Shah Rukh Khan plays a star with a spine in this Atlee film
Shah Rukh Khan in Jawan.

Last Updated: 02.35 PM, Feb 26, 2024


Story: A decorated police officer forms an unlikely alliance with a team of convicted women felons to tackle the deep-rooted issues plaguing the country's political system.

Review: The mainstream Hindi film industry for long has stayed away from tackling the everyday concerns of the common people. Can you recall the last Bollywood blockbuster headlined by a big star that discussed pressing issues such as farmers' rights? It's probably, Swades. In the 2004 drama, Shah Rukh Khan played a NASA scientist named Mohan Bhargava, whose short visit to a remote Indian village has a transforming effect on his psyche. 

It's hard to remember another other movie that even made a passing reference to pressing matters such as farmers' suicides. In contrast, the issues facing farmers and existential threats to the agriculture sector have become a sub-genre in Tamil cinema's commercial potboilers. Were such socio-economic issues too local and mundane for Bollywood as it catered to a much larger and diverse audience from all over the world? Enter director Atlee, a new import from Tamil cinema, who introduces this fresh trope to Bollywood. While leading stars addressing farmers' issues and political corruption might be commonplace in South Indian cinema, Hindi cinema audiences in the heartland may find it refreshingly different.

Very early on in Jawan, Vikram Rathore (Shah Rukh Khan), a bald-headed, middle-aged man, with a group of young women skilled in hacking, weapons handling, and crowd control, commits a daring act — they hijack a bustling metro station. Vikram maintains an unusual cheerfulness for a hijacker who has taken innocent people hostage and shot a woman in cold blood. His wit is laced with sarcasm and contemporary pop culture references, all while demanding a staggering ransom of over Rs 40,000 crore.

A special task force headed by Narmada Rai (Nayanthara) is tasked with negotiating with Vikram and securing the hostages' release. Initially, the idea of paying the ransom seems impossible. "Where will the government go for that kind of money?" everyone rightfully wonders.  

However, the metro train also holds a young teenage girl, who is the daughter of one of the biggest business tycoons in the country. And when this new information comes to light, things change. Suddenly, a Rs 40,000 crore ransom appears feasible. And Vikram takes this opportunity to discuss how bad loans worth thousands of crores get written off for rich businessmen, while farmers kill themselves over loans of a few thousand rupees. This is a familiar theme in Tamil cinema but feels novel in a Bollywood context.


While Bollywood has concerned itself largely with national security issues, socio-economic themes have often taken a back seat. The former provides a broader scope for action, chases, gunfights and exotic locations, elements that the latter may not offer as readily. And filmmakers like Shankar have cracked the code to blend escapist entertainment with issue-based storytelling. Atlee, a student of Shankar, is also a practitioner of this craft and has seen remarkable success in Tamil cinema. 

In Jawan, Atlee spices up the drama with a significant dose of patriotism and national security issues. It's quite dizzying to keep track of all sub-plots and story threads. So the best way to experience this movie is to enjoy what's happening on the screen at any given moment, without delving too deeply into subtext. This is not that kind of a movie. Everything is on the nose, subtlety is a rare commodity here. 

However, there is one exception. The theatre exploded with whistles, cheers, and applause when SRK's Vikram tells Kaali Gaikwad (Vijay Sethupathi) to talk to him before laying hands on his son. The audience clearly grasped the subtext, connecting that dialogue to what happened in SRK's personal life. 

Jawan is an SRK show all the way and he shines more in his older look with a case of serious amnesia. The man has lost his memory, but not his swag. If this character is any indication, the chances are SRK is likely to become even more attractive in his later years.  

Shah Rukh Khan in Jawan.
Shah Rukh Khan in Jawan.

While Vijay Sethupathi plays a cold-hearted businessman, he is also a key source of comedy. And Deepika Padukone as Aishwarya was supposed to be a cameo appearance. But, she leaves a lasting mark on the narrative just with her elegant screen presence, combining fragility and strength. Nayanthara gets numerous stylish sequences complete with slow walks, gun-wielding, and trendy sunglasses.

Also, Jawan feels timely in the run-up to the election season. When was the last time you can remember a top Bollywood star talking directly to the audience and urging them to make informed choices during the democratic process? "Vote not based on religious, cultural, or caste considerations, but on real issues like employment and healthcare. Hold your politicians accountable!," an an approximation of what SRK says in that scene. 

And incidentally, SRK removes his make-up just before delivering his firey monologue. It is as if the superstar is breaking out of character to convey a heartfelt message to the audience.

To sum up SRK's role in the movie, he plays a star with a spine. (If you know, you know!)

The verdict: Although it seems like a regular routine potboiler, Jawan offers a breath of fresh air on several fronts. 


    Get the latest updates in your inbox