The best thing about this maara-maari-thon is, no not Shah Rukh Khan (he’s beyond human evaluation of excellence) but Deepika Padukone. She shows up in this exacerbated show of flamboyant showmanship post midpoint and instantly lights up the screen with her luminous presence.
Wish she didn’t have to go. Sadly all good things must come to an end. Deepika’s exit ushers in another wave of indescribably kinetic action scenes, some of them on the road, others in confined spaces where the atmosphere is so sullen, I wished Deepika would turns up again to bring a bit sunshine into the glum.
Jawan is a bit like dipping your feet into a slushy toxic pond. You know it will sully you indelibly, but you can’t help it. There is so much here to celebrate , and the characters keep bursting into dances to Anirudh Ravichander’s cacophonic songs (if that is what they are) although I am never quite sure what they are celebrating as the plot manoeuvres from one mound of mayhem to another , and that too in a non-linear passage of time.
Bet the editor (Livingston Anthony Ruben) had fun shuffling the lives of the two Shah Rukh Khans (yes he plays father and son Rathore, told apart by the grey hair and gruff demeanour of Daddyjaan Vikram) like a pack of cards. So we begin with a ruggedly violent preamble in a North East state where SRK as Vikram Rathore rises from the dead and saves a whole village. Thirty years later his son Azad first saves farmers from suicide (the noose is quite rampant in the plot) by holding the industries’ minister’s daughter (named Alia, hence the Bhatt joke) then saves India’s healthcare by bamboozling India’s health minister.
I held my breath for the Minister of Information & Broadcasting to be pulled up for the state of our cinema. Maybe in the sequel? There are seeds for a sequel in this orgy of comicbook violence, not to be confused with the authentic bloodbath violence of this week’s other release Haddi.
In Jawan, the action is designed to make Shah Rukh Khan look many sizes larger than life. Please don’t mind. In both the father and son avatar he gets juicy SRK-type lines and a lineup of delectable ladies at his beck and call. In fact, there is a whole ladies’ jail where Shah Rukh is the jailer. Save the kinky thoughts for some other time. This vigilante and his army of female soldiers mean business.
There is so much meanness in the business that villain Vijay Sethupathi operates. He brazenly sells guns to the Indian army that don’t work; and when questioned he says the soldiers didn’t read the instruction manual as it was in a foreign language.
Director Atlee has studied the fine-print of the manual on how to make a SRK masala film. He gives us uninterrupted episodes of Shah-nomics ranging from virulent vigilantism to parenting a fatherless little girl who insists he marry her mother played by Tamil cinema’s ‘Lady Superstar’ Nayanthara who seems lost in the bedlam.
Oh yes, there are other ladies serving as Azad Rathore’s soldiers in a rogue army that thinks it can mend all the ills of our society with bullying tactics.
The film’s heart bleeds and cries for us Indians who are seem to be victims of an irredeemably corrupt administration. But the solution offered is seriously anarchic. Not that anyone cares. As long as SRK gets to pound the corroded system with his bare hands, all is well with the world.