You have come here after watching Jawan, the latest dish Atlee Kumar plated with India’s biggest superstar Shah Rukh Khan at the center of it. Chances are you have already watched it multiple times and are planning to go for it again. In the meantime, you are looking for films like Jawan, which can offer you a similar kind of experience. That is where this article comes in, where we have conjured up a list of ten films that might fill your Jawan- void in the upcoming weeks. Some of the entries in the list might surprise you, so I am going to share the thought process before going into it. Given that Jawan is many spices blended into one perfect dish, my agenda here is to suggest films that cover all the aspects of Jawan: anti-establishment, vigilante justice, mass action, social drama, as well as the father-son story, which is most certainly the heart of Atlee’s mega-blockbuster. So, here we go.
1. Nayak: The Real Hero (2001)
It seems fitting to start the list with a film made by a director who is literally a mentor to Atlee Kumar himself. Shankar is a huge name for his work in commercial cinema, both in Tamil and Hindi. His 2001 political action thriller Nayak: The Real Hero, which happens to be the Hindi remake of his own Mudhalvan (1999), wasn’t received that warmly upon its release. But over the years, Nayak has managed to gather a dedicated fanbase and achieve cult status.
It tells a fairly simple story of a television journalist questioning a corrupt Chief Minister on camera, and in a miraculous turn of events, he is challenged by the minister to become the Chief Minister for a day. While Mudhalvan was arguably ahead of its Hindi successor in terms of technical craft, Nayak soared thanks to the performances of two of its main stars: an enraged Anil Kapoor as the journalist and a madcap Amrish Puri as the corrupt minister. Both Kapoor and Puri set the screen on fire, and Kapoor’s turn as the one-day CM has to be one of the most entertaining story arcs Indian commercial cinema has ever witnessed.
2. Mersal (2017)
After the master, we now turn the focus to the apprentice himself. If Jawan has made you familiar with the name Atlee Kumar and you are now looking forward to exploring more of his work, then Mersal has to be the film that you should watch.
In many ways, Mersal would remind you of Jawan, and you are going to find similar vibes in it. Just like Jawan tells the emotional story of a son avenging his father’s death until the father miraculously returns to take the reins, Mersal is a riveting tale of a magician trying to avenge his dead father. If that is not enough, both roles are played by South Superstar Vijay. And just to intrigue you a little more, Vijay also plays another role, that of the twin brother of the main protagonist. Mersal ticks all the boxes of a fantastically made, commercially viable mass film that you are bound to enjoy. A scintillating soundtrack by the legendary A. R. Rahman should add value to that experience, for sure.
3. Watchmen (2009), Director’s Cut
Alright, this is where we start to tread in stranger waters. And given that this is a Zach Snyder film, you should most definitely watch the director’s cut version of it, which has an added 25 minutes and connects a lot of dots and explains certain things that you would miss if you watched the regular version.
Based on the iconic DC comic series penned by Dave Gibbons and the legendary Alan Moore, who chose not to take any credit, Watchmen takes you into an alternative version of 1985, with the world consumed by the cloud of the Cold War. In this particularly fascinating story, a group of down-and-out superheroes come together in order to find out the truth about the mysterious murder of one of their members. But as they go deeper into the investigation, they discover a huge, life-altering conspiracy and take on it to save the world. Snyder uses all his signature tropes, like slow motion, morbid color grading, and intense action sequences, and tells the story with enough panache to make this film one of his best works. The theme of anti-establishmentarianism runs all through the plot of Watchmen, which is why I am putting it here. The vibe is obviously much different from Jawan, but once you settle into it, you will have one of the most immersive movie experiences of your life.
4. Door Mouse (2023)
This one happens to be the movie I watched just the night before watching Jawan. I had no idea what it was about, but after watching it, I was so pumped. I took that energy to the theater, and Jawan turned out to be a similar kind of experience, only bigger and hyper. I can bet that you would not find the existence of Door Mouse, a recently released Indie Canadian thriller movie, in any movies like Jawan list, which is why I shared my own experience in order to sell this movie to you.
If that hasn’t done the trick for you yet, here is a small tidbit about Avan Jogia’s fantastic little film: This is the story of Mouse, a comic book artist and burlesque club worker who gets involved in this sinister conspiracy about woman trafficking by an elite, powerful organization while investigating her colleagues disappearances. Despite the subject, the treatment of “Door Mouse” is super stylish and very commercial, which is further enhanced by a glorious, bloody climax and a brilliant punk soundtrack.
5. X-Men: First Class (2011)
I was actually in a pretty difficult dilemma regarding which X-Men movie to put on the list. The other one that was under consideration was director James Mangold’s take on an aging Logan/Wolverine fighting evil men to save a little girl in the 2017 superhero western Logan. The battered and bruised, grizzled Logan would have given you the older Vikram Rathore vibe of Jawan. But the reason I ended up with Matthew Vaughn’s 2011 movie instead is one particular scene. A younger Magneto, played by an impeccable Michael Fassbender, walking into an Argentine bar, drinking a tall glass of beer, and casually killing a bunch of Nazis has to be the epitome of cool in contemporary Hollywood blockbuster movies.
That scene alone is enough for X-Men: First Class to find its place on this list. The rest of the movie is filled with brilliantly choreographed action, a crazy twist, a good versus evil showdown where the moral dilemmas of several characters play an integral part, and, of course, Vaughn’s brand of deadpan humor, which makes the whole thing an enthralling experience, just like Jawan.
6. Proloy (2013)
In 2012, teacher and social activist Barun Biswas was murdered by a local criminal gang. It was the outcome of his continuous protests against the same gang that kept doing heinous crimes like rape and molestation, which effectively terrorized the town of Sutia in West Bengal. A year after that, director Raj Chakraborty decided to make a film with Biswas as the hero, but with a commercial spin.
Chakraborty, who’d only helmed Bengali remakes of several South Indian films before that, albeit with successful outcomes, tried something original for the first time with this real-life tragic story. But in his film, there were two other heroes: a fearless cop and an aged vigilante high school teacher who made it a point to teach the gang a lesson and avenge Varun’s death. In many ways, Raj Chakraborty is the reason a lot of people in Bengal know the name Biswas. Proloy went on to attain cult status and eventually became the source of the Zee 5 spin-off series Abar Proloy (2023), where both the characters return to fight another crime where women also get exploited by evil men. Jawan, thanks to Atlee’s hand in it, does feel like a South Indian mass film. Considering how much you all have enjoyed watching it, maybe it’s time to try mass films from other regions of India.
7. Baby Driver (2017)
Putting Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver on this list is my tribute to the Vikram Rathore character from Jawan. I am overreaching a lot here, but every single thing Vikram Rathore does or wears has significance, so I decided to take his headphones and run with them. Considering the man is wearing them in his epic entry scene itself, along with many other scenes, it even makes sense to me.
Just like Vikram Rathore, getaway driver Baby constantly needs music in his ear to do his job seamlessly. Other than this, there are no similarities between Jawan and Baby Driver. On a broader spectrum, though, Baby Driver is also extremely entertaining, with something happening in almost every minute, and completely hooks the audience exactly the way Atlee’s film does.
8. Fight Club (1999)
How can we not put Fight Club on this list when we are talking about being anti-establishment this much? Sure, chances are many of you have already seen this iconic movie by legendary director David Fincher more than once, but there is no harm in re-watching it, right? And in case you still haven’t, this is the perfect time to give this one a go, as Fight Club is probably the greatest anti-capitalist statement that a movie could ever make.
We are not going to reveal the story of Fight Club, and you are going to find out the reason for that when you actually watch the movie. But to push you towards it, it stars Brad Pitt, who doesn’t need any introduction, and Edward Norton, who is known for experimenting with his roles and acting skills. Fincher’s direction is the high point of this movie, which should keep you glued to the screen till the finish line.
9. Shivaji: The Boss (2007)
Now, I didn’t plan to put two Shankar movies on this list, but I believe it’s justified enough given Shankar is the master himself and his films serve as a huge source of inspiration to Atlee Kumar, which is visible in the latter’s work.
Shivaji: The Boss is a typical, larger-than-life Shankar film, and it stars the greatest superstar ever to appear in the history of India, the living legend Rajnikanth. The story is rather simple: computer India Shivaji, after working many years abroad, comes back to India with the goal of helping underprivileged people by setting up a non-profit organization. But despite the novelty of his quest, Shivaji faces many hurdles, and the biggest of all is political corruption. But he battles it all in true Rajni style, which is why you watch this film. Like most Shankar films, this one also has a superb Rahman soundtrack, which is always an added bonus.
10. A Wednesday (2008)
In spite of Jawan being a mass potboiler, the film that came to mind while watching it is Neeraj Pandey’s A Wednesday. While the approaches of these two films are as different as apples and oranges, the core theme is quite similar: one man’s fight against the rigged system of our nation. Naseeruddin Shah’s nameless protagonist doesn’t have the swagger of SRK’s Azad or Vikram Rathore from Jawan, but he similarly does something audacious that makes the people aware of all the wrongs that need to be rectified. Naturally, it also alerts the police, and the rest of the story follows the same template of a police officer trying to convince the protagonist to surrender and not do anything drastic.
In what should be considered his career-best effort, Anupam Kher plays the unstoppable force behind Naseeruddin Shah’s immovable object. Both Kher and Shah are on top of their game here, and they are ably supported by a strong supporting cast consisting of actors like Jimmy Sheirgill and Aamir Bashir, a taut script by Pandey himself, and, of course, a brilliant director. A Wednesday should work perfectly as a palate cleanser after watching Jawan.