It would be an understatement to say Shah Rukh Khan’s Jawan is already a phenomenon in both India and across the entire world. Not that anyone should be surprised, given King Khan’s magnanimous aura as well as his recent form at the box office, after turning the wheel of his fortune with Pathaan, which was released earlier this year. Now, the million-dollar question is: Will Jawan get a sequel? Considering how the movie ended, the question is quite legitimate. We are going to get into that, but let us first look at what earned Jawan this kind of runaway success.
The simplest answer to that would be the man himself. Inarguably one of the most influential celebrities in the world, the name Shah Rukh Khan is good enough to mint crores at the box office. But here is the thing: Before Pathan, SRK was going through a box office slump as well. People still loved him alright, and his star power was mostly intact, but his impact at the box office drastically went down. That is why the comeback that he made with Pathan after a four-year sabbatical was mythical, but he needed a worthy follow-up to ensure his stay at the top. That’s where this star-struck thirty-something South Indian guy comes in. Atlee Kumar, a prodigy of ace South Indian auteur Shankar, was making commercially viable and financially successful films at the age of 27. The man had already made as many as four super-successful films in Tamil. But it is with Jawan that he has finally taken the big leap. Make no mistake, blending the superstardom of Shah Rukh Khan with his own South Indian masala was not exactly an easy thing to do, but Atlee Kumar has managed to pull it off spectacularly.
Jawan, in many ways, looks and feels like a South Indian mass film, and that’s exactly why it works. Instead of relying upon a structural format like cooking up a story to serve a mind-blowing climax by the end, the film comes at you like non-stop waves, where something always keeps happening. The much-talked-about Metrorail hijacking sequence from the trailer happens to take place about fifteen minutes into the film, and Atlee plays it really smart, by not making that the main deal of the film by closing it off soon and starting to play the other cards. The interval block of Jawan, where the gray-haired, cigar-smoking older SRK is finally revealed to the audience, should go down as the greatest one in Hindi cinema.
While Atlee Kumar should rightfully be hailed for the success of Jawan, the film is not just a spicy, batter-fried savory dish served with just the right amount of chili sauce and tomato ketchup. It is much more than that, actually. I saw the film on its opening day and was surprised to see, how much of a political film Jawan turned out to be. Eight hours later, I came across a YouTube-Video, where a guy fairly popular for his unsolicited opinions was dishing on Jawan for preaching left-liberal politics. I am deliberately mincing my words here, as the thumbnail of the said video uses a very common term synonymous with the word “trepidation”. But yes, this only further proves the film’s unapologetic political stance and how it is riling up a lot of people, especially the ones who have been supporters of films like The Kashmir Files, The Kerala Story and the very recent Gadar 2, if you know what I mean.
Jawan touches upon things like farmer’s suicide, lack of good healthcare in government hospitals, rigging of votes during elections, religious violence, gas tragedies, as well as influential businessmen holding the strings of corrupt politicians and running our democracy like a puppet show. All of these are supposed to ring bells, if you are even slightly aware of what has been going on in our country since 2014, provided you haven’t already become a believer in hating the neighboring nation with all your guts for the sake of your love for the motherland. For Khan, though, the film seems as personal as its political themes. We all know, the actor has been slandered in recent years by some of his own fans as well as people who expected him to speak up in matters of the nation, but all he gave us was utter silence.
As if things could not get any worse, his son got tied up in a drug conspiracy, which probably made him take his steps even more carefully, which involved shaking hands and wishing “happy birthday” to certain people who probably orchestrated the conspiracy and rejoiced at Khan’s downfall. In Jawan, Khan uses a whole five-minute speech to address all that and explain himself. Sure, his character, Azad, the jailer with a heart of gold and a penchant for vengeance, is speaking to the audience, but we can clearly read between the lines. And, of course, the now immortal “Before you touch the son, talk to the father” line is clearly a personal message from Khan to a certain section of people.
Coming back to our main question, whether or not the film is going to get a sequel, Well, we need to weigh in a lot of factors to answer this. While the movie ends with the killer twist that Sanjay Dutt’s white dhoti-kurta-clad Onam celebrating super cop Madhavan was a part of Azad’s masterplan to take down the fascism in the country all along, to make a sequel to it would obviously need a solid, fleshed-out script. We are not absolutely ruling out the possibility of that, but both Atlee and Khan would probably move on to different projects for now. Khan already has Raju Hirani’s next film, Dunki, along with his future stints as Pathaan in Salman Khan’s Tiger 3, as well as the much-hyped Tiger versus Pathaan film in his pipeline. There is another factor that we should consider.
Jawan is already making the public speculate about Sanya Malhotra’s character, Doctor Eeram, bearing an uncanny resemblance to a certain infamous real-life doctor named Kafeel Khan, along with so many other similar things, and it can’t all be coincidental. Especially if you think about the fact that the film’s main villain just happens to be a sixty-something guy who appears all meek in front of the public, sports white hair and a beard, and mouths lines like that translates to “wow, what a scene” (translate this back to Hindi to figure out) we can expect to see some sort of saffron retribution against both the film and Khan in the near future. However, considering King Khan’s current Messiah stature, nothing can harm a single strand of hair of that man in any way, which effectively means our hope for Jawan 2 lives on.