Shah Rukh Khan continues his cinematic resurgence with "Jawan," an action-packed drama featuring a sympathetic terrorist leader and a team of gun-wielding women. After making a significant appearance in "Brahmastra Part One: Shiva" and taking center stage in the box-office hit "Pathaan," Khan's newest venture aims to please long-time fans and newcomers alike, offering familiar thrills but with extra finesse.
Produced by Khan and his wife Gauri's Red Chillies Entertainment, "Jawan" offers a predictable yet gripping narrative. It’s quintessentially a Shah Rukh Khan experience, which for fans means meeting certain expectations. The film laboriously tries to add layers to Khan’s ambiguous antihero, Azad. Azad seizes a commuter train after a high-octane flashback sequence.
Azad is unveiled as a warden for a women's prison. He makes shocking demands to negotiator Narmada (Nayanthara), threatening more deaths if the government doesn't pay off farmers' crippling debts. The film navigates through a series of expected plot twists. Staring with Azad charming Narmada and her young daughter Suji (Seeza Saroj Mehta) to fighting corruption through violent public acts.
The narrative also interlaces an engaging subplot that connects Narmada and Azad to an incident 30 years ago, possibly in a village near Tibet. While the subplot's convergence may not astonish those familiar with Khan’s previous works, it still adds a satisfying twist to the story. This time, the stakes are personal, largely due to the inclusion of a malicious arms dealer, Kalee (Vijay Sethupathi).
The film features a surprise guest appearance by a Bollywood heavyweight, visible if you're alert during the opening credits. A standout moment includes a dance number featuring Khan and Deepika Padukone, whose on-screen chemistry is effortless. While some fight scenes are over-cut and under-directed, they maintain a level of engaging theatricality.
What sets "Jawan" apart from Khan's other recent works is the film's ability to adeptly handle its numerous convoluted subplots. Credit goes to director Atlee and his team, known for other high-profile movies like "Enthiran" and "2.0."
One of "Jawan’s" strong suits is Khan’s relaxed demeanor. He breezes through his characteristic quirks and expressions, appearing most at ease during musical sequences. The actor's signature slow-motion turns and pouts remain as captivating as ever. In short, Khan continues to be the superstar that he is, and "Jawan" capitalizes on his star power effectively.
Towards the film's end, Khan's Azad gives a stirring speech that resonates deeply given the upcoming general elections in India. While the creators of "Jawan" could have ventured into riskier territory, their endeavors in delivering a captivating narrative don’t go unnoticed. Khan's Azad serves as a reflection of the public's often misplaced trust in elected officials, adding a subtle layer of social commentary to an otherwise action-heavy drama.