In my previous review, I focused on all the positive aspects of ‘Jawan’. In this write-up, we are going to discuss the numerous discrepancies and shortcomings in the film, of which there are many.
Reason and logic take a backseat
I know that most people will be quick to criticize this point and argue that ‘Jawan‘ is a masala entertainer, and reason and logic are the last things on the minds of the makers when approaching a story or film of this nature. However, in this regard, I have to emphasize that true inspiration and heightened emotions can only be achieved when the audience can connect with the proceedings and set pieces and take them seriously. This can never happen if the audience is given the chance to question the believability and underlying logic of the proceedings. No matter how outrageous the proceedings may be, the suspension of disbelief must be achieved to ensure complete immersion in the narrative. The history of Indian cinema is riddled with many examples of films that achieved this seamlessly. Sadly, “Jawan” is not one of those. The outrageous nature and presentation of the proceedings are so over the top that you can never take them seriously, even for a second. The makers don’t even attempt to make the proceedings believable, and as a result, it never reaches a level where you are cheering for the characters rather than the bravura performance of Shah Rukh Khan and the others.
The confused narrative tone
The tone of the film is extremely confused. The worst thing about it is the fact that the proceedings violently oscillate between the serious and the comical, expecting the audience to resonate with both aspects of the proceedings just as easily and organically as the characters are shown adapting to them in the film. We see SRK cracking practical jokes with characters in one scene, and within seconds, we transition to a scene where we see a farmer humiliated to such an extent that he commits suicide, leaving his daughter so frustrated that she takes up arms against the man who initiated the dire action from her father. This felt so abrupt and underdeveloped that even though this was supposed to be a poignant moment, it came and went like just another sequence in the heap of sequences. It never achieves the kind of impact that it was supposed to. This happens to be a recurring theme in the film.
Romantic track and angles feel forced and unnecessary
The two romantic tracks and angles in the film simply don’t work. While the one between Deepika and SRK works to a certain extent because of the terrible things that happen to them and how Deepika is shown dealing with her predicament, the romantic angle between SRK and Nayanthara feels forced and completely unnecessary. It occurred so abruptly that I was completely taken aback by it during my two separate viewings of the film. My friend seated next to me asked me numerous times why the character of Nayanthara needed to get married in the first place, and I had no answer to this question. These portions are rushed to such an extent that entire romantic developments are shown happening throughout a song. The fact that these songs are not good enough makes these portions even more irritating and disconnected from the rest of the film. Having Nayanthara as a standalone character without any connections to SRK would have served the story far better. The track between Deepika and SRK was unavoidable but needed to be developed better.
An extremely generic story laden with homages and inspirations
The story of “Jawan” is so overused that I was amazed at why Atlee would choose such a generic storyline for one of his most ambitious projects, and that too with the biggest star of our time. I was able to predict every little twist, and the presentation was so in line with my expectations that the story never, for a second, surprised or thrilled me. This was one of the biggest drawbacks of the film for me and was, in many ways, an unpardonable mistake for a director presenting a film aimed at being the motion picture event of the year. If that was not enough, every entertaining and noteworthy aspect of the story was either borrowed from other national and international hits where it was done better or was an unsubtle homage by Atlee to a plethora of different directors, films, and even his own work. This felt so on-the-nose and annoying that after a while, I cringed at some of these presentations.
A weak antagonist easily handled by the protagonist
The antagonist of the film, portrayed by Vijay Sethupathi, is as generic a villain as one could expect. There is nothing special about the character, and his motivations lack depth or any compelling personal drive or a rich backstory with the protagonist. Moreover, the villain is portrayed as someone who enjoys cracking jokes and aims to be funny. This not only introduces poorly executed comedy into some of the more serious scenes of the film but also strips these sequences of any gravitas or intensity.
Vijay Sethupathi’s makeup in the latter half of the film is clichéd and appears so artificial that it immediately detracted from the viewing experience. His face-offs with SRK should have been more powerful and impactful, but they ended up being as generic as the overall storyline itself. Atlee had a golden opportunity to create spectacular sequences with these two superstars, but he fell short. It’s worth noting that Vijay Sethupathi’s performance is on point, and the shortcomings lie in how poorly his character is written and directed. As the saying goes, the hero in a film is only as heroic as the menace posed by the villain. With a weak antagonist, the machismo and heroism of SRK are significantly diluted.
Terrible songs that test your patience
While Anirudh’s background music (BGM) was one of the highlights of the film, the songs in the film are surprisingly bad and can truly test your patience. The frequent appearance of songs every 15 to 20 minutes proves to be detrimental to the film’s pacing and disrupts the narrative flow. If the songs and picturisation were of high quality, it might have justified their inclusion, but unfortunately, that is not the case here. These songs do little to advance the story, except for one, which happens to be the only decent track in the film. The movie could have been significantly improved by reducing the number of songs.
A hurried narrative with thin character development
Even at a runtime of 2 hours and 49 minutes, the film feels rushed, with significant gaps in character development. The audience is expected to connect with random characters who are not half as developed as they should be to create any meaningful impact. The film seems to sprint from one plot point to another, pausing only for the inclusion of poor songs. Despite this, the plot feels too hurried to be justified within the film’s duration, resulting in underdeveloped characters with whom we struggle to relate, and plot points that lack any substantial impact. The romantic angles suffer the most, with the king of romance, SRK, struggling to evoke his magic alongside two talented actresses like Nayanthara and Deepika Padukone.
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As I conclude my two-part review of the film, I can’t help but feel that “Jawan” was more of a missed opportunity than the entertaining spectacle it turned out to be for SRK fans. With a bit more focus on storytelling and an effort to craft a more believable and realistic narrative, this film could have easily been one of the best films of the year. It should have concentrated on the more serious aspects of the story and left out the messy and low-quality humour that had no place here.
That being said, I watched this film twice and had a reasonably enjoyable time with it. It never bored me to the point where I wanted to leave the theatre, so I don’t have too many complaints about it either. The sheer pleasure it provided to its target audience justifies its existence, and it’s certainly a film tailored for SRK fans. If you’re an SRK fan, you’ll likely love it. If not, I’m not so sure.
Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)
The views expressed in this article are that of the reviewer and do not reflect EastMojo’s position.
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