Opinion: Glorifying terrorism notwithstanding, SRK in Jawan makes a case for 'Bharat'

When Bollywood directors try to include South voices, it’s almost always for grossly comical reasons full of stereotypes.

By Spurthi Kolipaka  Published on  11 Sep 2023 8:31 AM GMT
Opinion: Glorifying terrorism notwithstanding, SRK in Jawan makes a case for Bharat

Hyderabad: Watching any Indian film in the UK is in itself an exciting activity. I feel as though I am suddenly in a very familiar place, no longer foreign to me. Just looking at the audience reminds me of home is a wonderful feeling. To be amidst the mad love for Indian cinema, almost a passion that we all share – wah!

But, all these nice feelings start disappearing with the countless advertisements that the screens here show – ranging from supermarkets selling the best British potatoes to those that you are not sure what the product that they are selling. And then come the countless trailers – and for some reason, almost all the trailers that we saw today were just violent.

Despite covering a wide range of genres – horror, sci-fi, fantasy, true stories – they were all connected through some not-so-pleasant formats of storytelling.

I felt giving this context was important as the mood and the environments do affect how we perceive things – film included. There is a lot already being said about the film, how it’s not such a new thing for Southies, how strong female portrayal is, superb acting and direction, and so on.

Here, I add my perspective to those as well. <Spoilers alert>

What do I like about the film?

SRK – of course, duh! He tells us again why there is a star like no other, why he is an artist we can all be proud of. We all know his screen presence is the loudest! But, when his competition is his version – he delivers, Man, Oh, man! He delivers! The scene when Azad meets Vikram Rathore for the first time – wah! (Also, I am going to name something or someone Azad next!)

Celebration of Plurality – India, that is Bharat, is going through some extremely divisive times. So, naturally, I loved the fact that this is a film that not just brings Bollywood and Kollywood (also, Tollywood) superstars together, but also how, there are simple ways in which diversity is celebrated. For how when Sanjay Dutt casually says while in his mundu that he needs to go back for Sadhya.

When Bollywood directors try to include South voices, it’s almost always for grossly comical reasons full of stereotypes. But, when a Kollywood writer directed a film with the same actor – it comes across as a celebration. Sethupathi completely messes up his striking pulings in some scenes – but it doesn’t come across like a joke, he still owns the screen, and is still a powerful character. Even, Nayan’s slight accent is just so wonderful to see!

Woman Power – Nayanthara, Deepika Padukone, Priyamani, Sanya Malhotra – established stars! It’s often said that big stars can't work together or wouldn’t like to play non-lead roles. But, these women prove them all wrong! Each of them slayed it! Of course, the other new ones (who I am yet to stalk!). Their acting, fight sequences, dance moves – slayed. Special mention to Priyamani’s moves – If the only thing that kept me through the boring ‘Zinda Banda’ song were the dance moves, Priyamani managed to steal the light! She is amazing!! And, I am hoping to see more of her from here on! Also, that entry scene of Nayan’s – uff!

Social Causes – I love any film that mentions a cause. (Unfortunately, my standards are yet to rise!). And, this is a potli of causes – Bhopal gas tragedy, farmer suicides, greedy and powerful businessmen, corrupt politicians, failure of healthcare, poor quality of weapons for soldiers, women’s prison, power of a common person’s vote. The monologue on the vote – total chumma!

Backstory to the remixed version of ‘Ramayya Vastavayya’ – While we have unfortunately been dumped with so many remixed versions of classic songs lately, this song has a cute backstory of how Vikram Singh Rathore plays this song earlier and is now replaying it in his new version of getting his memory back. It still sucks, but a backstory makes it legitimate!

Now, what I thought was a joke! Bleh!

The arranged marriage sish – Lol! What a classic arranged marriage system. Despite heading Force One, Nayan does no background checks and trusts a child to make the decision and also gets married, like what, in just a few days!! Like, whaaaat!! Women – Do the exact opposite please! Also, for a guy who not just heads a prison but is so passionate about eliminating poverty – the BIG FAT Indian Wedding – is just too hypocritical, no?!

The Sexist song! – ‘Kudi tu lagdi hai faratta, Kudi tu lagdi hai patakha’ which translates to ‘Girl, you look like a bombshell, girl, you look like a firecracker!’ – For a film that seemingly wants to get in good books for ‘women’s empowerment’, this objectification is a BIG nah! Do better!

Too much violence – I’m often told the audience (apparently mass people) like such scenes and that’s why a mass masala movie has to have HERO-will-kill-them-all fight scenes. And, I always argue it’s the writers and actors and directors who are obsessed with over-the-top and gory scenes and the audience just has no choice but to watch their favorite actors film nevertheless.

And, I honestly believe, of late, the goriness has just been on the rise. I don’t remember seeing so much blood and cuts and devious fights, so casually. I honestly missed my forward button from OTT. All they do is put one comic angle between the goriness to make it digestible now and then. It felt so bleh! Except, for the one scene where the 6000 women in the prison send the police guy back in Chaddi.

The solutions – The classic trope of HERO can fix it all. One guy on a mission can do everything. He is God! Like, please! Some solutions especially were so bleh! Fixing 256 hospitals in 5 hours with doctors, toilets, equipment, and whatnot! BIG JOKE!

Glorifying terrorism - Hijacking is a terrorist activity. No matter what! I wish there was some other narrative to get the attention of those in power.

The reveal – When Azad finally reveals himself to the nation, he starts unraveling the kapda first, and then starts taking out the bald cap and fake beard/mustache – as if it’s a big reveal. It honestly felt like a good shampoo ad. You both look the same – there was no reveal there – hello!! Joke!

My final recommendation – Go for it! Also, can SRK really do push-ups on 2 fingers??!

About Author:

Spurthi is a trained social worker with over a decade’s experience in the Indian development sector. She is currently a doctoral researcher with an interest in water, gender, and governance. When not busy researching, she loves watching films and especially gets excited about mainstream films that touch social issues – especially trying to work on everyone’s favorite buzzword of the 21st Century – Women’s Empowerment!

Jawan: SRK's melange of Bollywood and Kollywood is a celebration of India's plurality

Jawan: Glorifying terrorism notwithstanding, SRK makes a case for `Bharat'

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