Khan seems unstoppable, as proved in his latest outing Jawan, a slick action thriller that quite literally doubles the fun as he plays two characters – a father and a son. The film is also notable for its generous dose of South Indian star power in the form Nayanthara, who makes her Bollywood debut, as well as Vijay Sethupathi, who plays the menacing villain Kalee.
The mash of cultures has proven to be a hit formula as Jawan packs a punch. The high-octane thriller is everything popular Indian movies are made of – larger-than-life stars, big-action spectacles, beautifully shot song and dance sequences and a melodramatic plot line that will make a telenovela look like a Martin Scorsese series.
Khan plays Vikram Rathore, a former special ops officer, who hijacks a train with a squad of six women. In exchange, he demands the government return billions of taxpayers' rupees it had used to bail out a businessman. Vikram then uses the money to help farmers whose belongings have been seized by the government as they've defaulted on their loans.
This sets off a series of events. The businessman, it turns out, is notorious arms dealer Kalee (Sethupathi) whose dubious influence over politicians earlier led to Vikram, an honest soldier, being branded a traitor.
Along the way, we are introduced to Narmada Rai (Nayanthara), an officer, who is tasked with nabbing Vikram. And Azad (also played by Khan), who is married to Narmada.
The confusing premise eventually makes sense as the film progresses. And it does so at a frenetic pace, throwing in enough action sequences that would put any Fast & Furious film to shame.
There are plenty of backstories – including those of the women in Vikram's squad – to take the plot back and forth.
But the three-hour run time never seems to stretch, as director Atlee, who also co-wrote the script, sprinkles enough zing at every turn to keep the audience invested.
Bollywood star Deepika Padukone makes a memorable cameo, proving again why she and Khan are such a hit pairing.
But while Nayanthara is impressive in her Hindi debut and Sethupathi reliably brings his A-game to the role, Jawan is Khan's film all the way. Just like his character single-handedly takes on 20 baddies, he effortlessly flits in and out of the many characters Atlee throws at him – from police officer to doting father to chilling hijack taker – once again proving why he's often called “King Khan”.
Jawan is thoroughly entertaining and sits in the same vein as spy-thriller Pathaan, only amplified multiple times over.