The Controversial Political Journey of ‘Kali Gaikwad’: Unveiling the True Colors of the Jawan’s Villain

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Vijay Sethupathi in Jawan


Screengrab / Jawan trailer

Director Atlee’s Jawan: A Conversation Starter

By Jyoti Nisha

Published on September 2023


What happens when a blockbuster film asks all the correct questions through the biggest superstars of our times, making you dance, swoon, and have Shah Rukh Khan’s voice course through your veins? That is what director Atlee’s Jawan, starring Shah Rukh Khan, Nayanthara, and Deepika Padukone, and with music by Anirudh does. In a scene where Shah Rukh Khan asks for taaliyaan (claps), there is no taaliyaan in that hijacked metro in the film, but a recurring applause sounds in the single screen theatre of Gaiety, Bandra. Ah! My face was flushed. Jawan is not a film, it is a conversation starter.

Jawan: A Film with Social and Political Commentary

Jawan, which made Rs 797 crores at the box office, is not just any film — it is one that shows that Atlee has his eyes on the social and political environment of the country, be it farm loans, poor medical infrastructure, or our choice of leaders. Jawan appeals to its audience to understand the power of our voting rights. Although Atlee gives us an unforgettable saviour in Vikram Rathod, I can’t help but ask a very pertinent question to the writer-director: Why is his nemesis, a criminal, called Kali Gaikwad?

Examining the Characters of Kali Gaikwad and Vikram Rathod

Kali is a dark-skinned man, with Gaikwad as his surname. A basic Google search will show that Gaikwad (also spelt Gaikwar and Gaekwad) is a surname native to Maharashtra and found among the Marathas (OBC), Kolis (SC), Bharadis (ST) Dhor (SC), and Mahar (SC) communities of Maharashtra. Played impeccably by Vijay Sethupathi, Kali Gaikwad reminded me of Bad Boy Billionaires, an investigative docu-series that explored the greed, fraud, and corruption of India’s infamous fugitives.

Atlee’s Unique Storytelling Style

  • Atlee’s heroes are righteous, morally upright, and often public servants.
  • They are angry common men who take on the role of vigilantes to avenge social injustice.
  • Atlee gives his heroes multiple roles, expanding the scope of their characters.
  • The filmmaker pays attention to detail, from background scores to costume details.

The Impact of Jawan

By crafting engaging characters and a compelling storyline, Atlee captures the attention of the audience. Jawan showcases the super stardom of Shah Rukh Khan and offers a mix of action, emotion, and a powerful soundscape. The film’s heart is in the right place, although its gaze may be subject to scrutiny. Jawan proves that mainstream cinema still has the power to captivate and entertain.


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