Most mainstream audiences in the west, other than those from Indian or Asian communities, usually know very little about Bollywood cinema and why it’s such a juggernaut of the global movie world. A truly massive industry, Bollywood churns out nearly twice the amount of films that Hollywood does yearly. With a huge roster to choose from, and films that are crammed with famous stars, filmmakers, singers, and globally respected choreographers, the industry shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. Bollywood films continue to expand their reach, becoming a lot more widely known among western audiences in recent years through streamers like Netflix.
Despite the wide range of huge streaming services out there now, Netflix remains one of the most popular around. A large part of Netflix’s success is due to its wide variety of programming that offers subscribers film and television shows across a wide variety of locales. With everything from Bollywood films, to Korean films and shows, Malaysian, Indonesian, and European programming have also fared well on the service, among others.
There was therefore no surprise when the hit Bollywood film Jawan was added into Netflix’s foreign offerings. So far massively popular, the film, which was released in 2023, has become the second-biggest Hindi Bollywood film ever made. Boasting a fantastic story, some amazing performances by heavy-hitter names, stunts, action, comedy, and the usual Bollywood musical aspects, the film is certainly one to watch if you haven’t seen it yet.
While Netflix has broadened Bollywood’s reach and introduced many a western viewer to its allure, for those who haven’t seen any Indian films yet, Jawan is a great film to serve as an introduction to the spectacle that Indian cinema is. Here’s a look at the main reasons why you should catch Jawan on Netflix while you can.
Categorized as a ‘masala’ film, Jawan typifies this Bollywood subgenre which seamlessly blends different styles and genres. Essentially an action-thriller, it centers around a soldier of sorts who is hell-bent on a complex mission. It begins with the film’s protagonist, Azad, and a team of all-female accomplices, who hijack a metro train and hold the passengers hostage.
Despite seemingly behaving like a terrorist, Azad and his team’s motives become more clear as they contact the Minister of Agriculture and demand money from him. It turns out he wants the money to compensate indigent farmers who have been harmed by the government’s policies that place corporate interests above the plight of ordinary farmers.
It’s soon clear that this is a nuanced take on a Robin Hood-style story, one that takes direct aim at corporate greed, government corruption and crony capitalism. Packed with scintillating stunts, stylized action, and plenty of twists and drama, the film also features musical breaks which are common in Indian cinema. A blend of varying styles of entertainment all fluidly packed into one film, Jawan more than exemplifies why its lead star has become such a major player in the movie world.
Just a couple of decades ago, Bollywood cinema and its stars were barely known beyond their core audiences. However, over time, stars like Aishwarya Rai (once known as the most beautiful woman in the world), began making appearances in Hollywood films and slowly fusing the two worlds. Fast-forward to today and Bollywood starlet Priyanka Chopra has become a fixture in western TV shows, with other stars showing up in Hollywood all the time — recently evident by Alia Bhatt’s role in the Gal Gadot spy thriller, Heart of Stone.
However, amid the many huge stars, highly acclaimed filmmakers, singers, and choreographers Bollywood boasts, there’s one name that sticks out above all: Shah Rukh Khan. Khan is a globally adored superstar actor who’s widely considered to be the biggest movie star in the world.
Affectionately known as SRK, it’s difficult to explain to a western viewer who isn’t familiar with him just how big he is. He’s starred in over 100 films, has wide-ranging business interests that include owning a well known cricket team, and has won too many prestigious awards to name, including 14 Filmfare Awards and 3 IIFA Awards, which is Bollywood’s equivalent of an Oscar. Now 58, the veteran actor is known as “King Khan” for good reason, since he inspires the kind of global respect, popularity, and adoration that often goes hand-in-hand with royalty.