(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Bollywood Hungama)

In the ever-changing world of Bollywood, one name has consistently kept its pulse racing for over three decades: Shah Rukh Khan. As speculation about Bollywood’s decline loomed, Khan made a triumphant return to the big screen after a four-year hiatus with “Pathaan” and “Jawan.” The former smashed records as the highest-grossing Bollywood movie, and the latter, released on Sept. 7, is poised to follow suit, reaffirming the star’s unrivaled status as the industry’s driving force.

In “Jawan,” Khan takes on a compelling role in an action-packed thriller that revolves around themes of patriotism and seeking justice for the underprivileged. Portraying the characters Azad and Vikram Rathore — yes, he plays a double role — Khan leads a team of six military-trained women on a mission to compel the Indian government to address pressing issues with infrastructure and unfair compensation for struggling farmers. To honor the legacy of Vikram, his father and a revered soldier who tragically succumbed to the relentless tide of capitalism gripping the nation, Azad adopts his name. As the film unfolds, viewers are drawn into a riveting narrative that delves deep into the struggle for a just and equitable society.

“Jawan” delves into the harsh realities faced by India’s low-income communities, highlighting the ruthless exploitation of their vulnerabilities by profit-driven individuals. The film accuses the Indian government for neglecting genuine solutions to these issues and exposes the stark lack of urgency in addressing crucial issues, where public hospitals often lack basic medical necessities and farmers struggle to access resources for essential tools and tractors. High-interest loans push underprivileged citizens further into debt and leads to asset seizures. “Jawan” serves as a powerful reminder of India’s recurring failures to support its marginalized citizens, emphasizing their ongoing struggle for justice and equal opportunities.

The dangerous missions taken up by Azad and his team emphasize the urgency of these changes. “Jawan” boasts a plethora of exhilarating action sequences that leave audiences on the edge of their seats. The stunt choreographers showcase exceptional creativity in devising thrilling moves and employing a variety of tools, including a flammable explosive bike and high-octane special ops missions involving rifles and grenades. In these heart-pounding moments, Azad proves himself a formidable one-man army, taking on hordes of adversaries with unwavering determination. What sets these action sequences apart is their ability to rival the high standards set by renowned franchises like “John Wick.” Khan’s portrayal of Azad exudes raw power and skill, making each confrontation a pulse-pounding spectacle. The electrifying title track, which accompanies most of those intense battle scenes, adds an infectious energy to the chaos.

Khan not only excels in delivering a compelling storyline and heart-pounding action scenes but also showcases his unparalleled versatility by embracing both Azad and Vikram. As I watched the movie, I could not help but marvel at the actor’s ability to radiate an unmatched sense of effortless coolness. He masterfully portrays his characters, making them appear both bold and formidable.

Khan’s knack for remaining composed, even in the most perilous moments, coupled with his cheeky one-liners adds a unique charisma to his roles. Moreover, he reaffirms his well-deserved title as “the king of romance” through the film’s enchanting musical sequences. These moments are delightful blends of old Bollywood nostalgia and Khan’s timeless charm. It is  heartwarming to witness the actor effortlessly revive his classic arms-open pose, a signature move that has captivated audiences for years.

“Jawan” is an exhilarating blend of action, mystery, drama and romance — a heartfelt tribute to Khan’s brilliance. It is a delight for his devoted fans, reaffirming that Bollywood is not quite Bollywood without him. Khan’s self-proclaimed title as “the last of the stars” feels justified, as he continues to rekindle the world’s love for Bollywood and keep theaters buzzing, a feat unlikely to be replicated by any other actor. “Jawan” not only entertains, but it also cements Khan’s irreplaceable status as a Bollywood legend.

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Yashonandan Kakrania (he/him, 26B) is from Kolkata, India. He is pursuing a dual degree in BBA and MSBA. He is a huge film enthusiast. Outside the Wheel, he is a SA in Dobbs Hall, Board member of Hindu Student Association, and a part of different business clubs.