Crossing more than 500 crores worldwide in just four days, Shah Rukh Khan became the first actor to deliver two films within the 500-crore club in the same year. The gigantic popularity and appeal SRK has accumulated around the world all these years amassed more than 50 crores even before Jawan hit the theaters, surpassing his previous hit Pathaan. The theaters have been resounding with hoots, thunderous claps, and whistles as the audience rejoices and dances over yet another impeccable performance by Shah Rukh Khan. But is he the only one keeping the show running throughout? With a star-studded cast giving exemplary performances, an accomplished director, and engaging storytelling, maybe we should be giving credit where it is due. Sure, Jawan was a big step up from Pathaan in almost all spheres. Pathaan could be a film where SRK may be the recipient of the sole credit, but Jawan is far from it.
The film starts as a mystery yet to be solved and escalates to the present day, which opens with a strong female-led cast comprising Sanya Malhotra, Priyamani, Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, Girija Oak Godbole, Leher Khan, and Aaliyah Qureishi. It is very impressive how each of the girls has been given a backstory and acquires an integral part in the story. Their roles aren't just limited to fetishized item songs, and neither are they used to distract, but to build up the plot, which is a very bold move in a mainstream Hindi film. Additionally, Nayanthara has also been given a pivotal role that holds an integral part in the film. However, the stardom of SRK somehow overshadows their respective characters, which are very well-crafted in the film. Not to mention, the fight scene between Khan and Nayanthara is also one-of-a-kind and compelling, as it features a fair confrontation between a man and a woman, which is definitely very new to mainstream cinema.
Being a mainstream Hindi action-thriller film, Jawan has also performed exceptionally well among the South Indian audience, and part of this success can be attributed to the major South Indian star cast, which made it a pan-Indian blockbuster. Vijay Sethupathi, helming the role of the antagonist, appealed to his fans among the South Indian audience, along with Nayanthara, Priyamani, and Girija Oak Godbole. Moreover, the inclusion of South Indian actors within the arena of mainstream cinema is itself an achievement, providing a bigger platform and more recognition to regional cinema and its actors. And of course, the prowess of director Atlee Kumar cannot be ignored in consolidating the various factors of the film to make it a huge success. If not for the compelling visuals and storytelling, Jawan would have been yet another moralizing sermon or even more so, another India-Pakistan war saga.
While the story remains typical, the cameos by Deepika Padukone and Sanjay Dutt help maintain the element of surprise and keep the audience engaged. The audience loves the chemistry between Khan and Padukone, as they did in Om Shanti Om, Chennai Express, and Pathaan. They have yet again embraced the two actors for their effortless and breezy romance. Dutt’s cameo was rather unforeseen but successful in tapping into his following and prominence. Using a cast of mainstream actors could have a significant impact on the film’s success as people relate to and identify with them better than new or critically acclaimed actors.
Another factor contributing to the success of Jawan is the message it seeks to propagate, which remains rather manifold. On the surface, it is powerful in convincing the audience to question the regime; at its core, it is yet another fetishization of political agendas. Many believe the film is equivalent to movies like The Dark Knight and others that question humanity altogether in its pursuit of greed. This subsequently stirs up the dilemma: is the universal greed of humanity also politicized?
In any case, the success of Jawan is manifold, an amalgamation of the factors contributing to it which remain relevant to the present times, much like any other film. Sure, SRK is a contributing factor and remains just as relevant in contemporary cinema, but it is not a one-man show indeed. The success of Jawan is bigger than Shah Rukh Khan.