Shah Rukh Khan’s Jawan roars at the BOtext_fields
New Delhi: Some struck his quintessential open arms pose, while others danced to drumbeats and many poured milk on giant Shah Rukh Khan cutouts - such were the scenes that unfolded outside cinema halls across the country as "Jawan" got off to an exuberant start on Thursday.
The pan-India thriller in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu is directed by South filmmaker Atlee and the first day saw audiences enthusiastically pouring in across places such as Delhi-NCR, Jaipur, Jammu, Mumbai and Kolkata, reminiscent of the jubilation that greeted the release of "Pathaan" in January.
Ahead of the film's release, #BoycottJawan trended on social media for a while with some users calling for a boycott because it is distributed by Red Giant Movies in Tamil Nadu. The company is owned by Tamil Nadu minister Udhayanidhi Stalin, who has courted controversy for his comments against Sanatan Dharma.
But fans were unfazed as they poured milk on Shah Rukh cutouts and garlanded posters and his images in a style that has come to be associated with Rajinikanth movies.
The film is a unique marriage of South "mass" cinema sensibilities that blends in with the charisma of one of Bollywood's biggest superstars, who completes his transition from the romantic hero of the yore to the action hero of today.
Shah Rukh has been reinvented and packaged in a fresh wrapping in a year that has marked the comeback of masala entertainers on the big screen.
The film seemed to redefine the "hero's entry" scene -- a hallmark of big-budget entertainers -- as every time Shah Rukh appeared, he was greeted with loud cheers and whistles in one of the theatres in Noida.
Set to a frantic pace in true Atlee style, some of the film's key scenes are set to tunes of old Hindi songs, making action sequences even more palpable.
Described by the makers as a high-octane thriller, "Jawan" outlines the story of a man set out to correct the wrongs of the society and true to the brief, Shah Rukh Khan is many things in the film that sometimes blurs the line between reel and real with its meta commentary.
Loudest of the cheers were reserved for a dialogue, revealed in the trailer when Shah Rukh's character declares "Bete ko haath lagane se pehle, baap se baat kar (Before touching the son, deal with the father)".
The audience erupted with joy at the punchline, as they tried to relate it to his son Aryan's arrest in the drugs-on-cruise case. Aryan was later acquitted in 2021.
"Jawan" at its core is a father-son story and Shah Rukh is a man of many faces: a soldier, a romantic hero and a Robin Hood-esque figure, who takes on the nexus of politicians and businessmen who are in cahoots.
The film also touches upon issues like government apathy, corruption, farmers' suicide, a healthcare system in shambles, faulty army weapons and dangerous factories set near residential areas. In one of the key scenes, the hero also urges the common people to vote sensibly.
The issues may be many but they have been tackled with a feather-light touch in two hours and 49 minutes.
Photographs and videos poured in from across the country - from 6 a.m. shows in Kolkata to packed halls of Srinagar's lone multiplex, showcasing fans out and about in excitement on Janmashtami, a holiday in many parts of the country.
Outside Kolkata's Asoka theatre, fans raised slogans in support of Shah Rukh and decorated the film's giant poster with garlands.
Some fans brought posters of the actor and used marigold petals to form a message, "Love SRK". One fan performed a puja at the theatre, putting a 'tilak' on the star's face on the poster.
In Jaipur, some viewers turned up at a theatre in white T-shirts with the poster of "Jawan" printed on them. They played the song "Zinda Banda" on their speakers and danced to their hearts content before making their way into the cinema hall.
The many looks of the actor, particularly the one that shows him with a bandaged face and another with a mask, covering half of his face, was also a popular get-up for many SRKians, as they call themselves.
In the film, the actor is supported by a group of combat-trained women, ably played by Priyamani and Sanya Malhotra, Girija Oak, Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, Lehar Khan, and Aaliyah Qureshi, whose emotional backstories propel the narrative. One of the backstories is of a doctor wrongly accused of dereliction of duty in a case of death of several children in a government hospital due to lack of oxygen supply.
The state of healthcare seems to be a recurring concern for Atlee, whose earlier hit "Mersal" with Thalapathy Vijay, also tackled the issue in detail. The director, only 36 and considered one of the most bankable directors in the South, dials up Shah Rukh Khan's charms with crackling dialogues.
Thrown in the mix are a slightly caricaturish Vijay Sethupathi's arms dealer villain Kalee, Nayanthara's honest cop Narmada trying to hunt the hijacker, Deepika Padukone's extended emotional cameo and a surprise appearance by Sanjay Dutt, who takes viewers to his "Rocky" and "Khalnayak" days in his whistle-worthy performance.
The film is full of nostalgia with names, details, songs from old films and Shah Rukh's own storied filmography making its way. There is Kaveri amma, the name, from "Swades" and then there is also a mention of Mufasa and Simba from Disney classic "The Lion King". Incidentally, Shah Rukh and Aryan had lent their voices to the live-action movie's Hindi version.
"Jawan" also doffs its hat to action movies of Hollywood star Keanu Reeves with 'the red pill/blue pill' from "The Matrix" films making a literal appearance. One of the scenes in the movie, before it even played out, was guessed by one of the audience members to be from Reeves' latest action franchise "John Wick".
In Mumbai, fans queued up in large numbers at the Gaiety Galaxy in Bandra and were seen frantically dancing to drum beats inside a theatre, recalling celebrations seen during the festive season. Fans were also seen forming a human pyramid outside a theatre at a 6 a.m. show.
There were similar scenes inside a cinema hall in Chennai where fans broke into whistles as the film unspooled in front of them.
In Hyderabad, hundreds of fans gathered at Devi Theatre, placed large cutouts of the superstar, threw confetti and danced their hearts out before the first show.
At Liberty Cinema in Delhi's Karol Bagh, some clicked selfies against the film with its poster. The scene was akin to that of Holi celebrations with many fans donning white and playing with colours as they danced to the film's track outside the theatre.
Trade experts are betting big on "Jawan" as they believe the movie will outperform "Pathaan", which had reported earnings of Rs 1,050 crore. They pegged the opening day figure to be somewhere around Rs 65-70 crore.
The film already got a thumbs up from fans as over 7.5 lakh tickets were booked in advance on online ticket booking platform BookMyShow by Tuesday evening.
A Red Chillies Entertainment presentation, "Jawan" is produced by Gauri Khan and co-produced by Gaurav Verma.
With inputs from PTI