Kalee Gaikwad In ‘Jawan,’ Explained: Does Vijay Sethupathi’s Character Die In The End?


Back in the day, villains in mainstream movies didn’t have any complicated motivations or long-term goals. They just wanted to be evil for the sake of being evil, acquired the heroine of the film, tormented the hero, and then died a brutal death. But as movies progressed and audiences became smarter, such flimsy writing didn’t get a pass. In recent films, the two kinds of villains that we are getting to see a lot of are tech giants who are trying to push some kind of artificial intelligence and businessmen who are so anti-environment that they are willing to kill anyone who stands in their way. In Jawan, Vijay Sethupathi’s Kalee is clearly the latter. Now, as compared to Sethupathi’s previous villainous roles, Kalee can feel a little underwritten and a little underwhelming because he is being too casual about it. So, let’s take a closer look at him and see if there’s more to him than meets the eye or if he’s a run-of-the-mill villain.

Spoiler Alert

Kalee apparently started off as a weapons dealer. But going by the fact that his younger self is introduced in a scene where he’s using a human being stuffed in a sack as a punching bag, it’s possible that he comes from somewhere far darker than we are led to believe. Now, if a person like him, who has no weapons training, has no interest in the safeguarding of the soldiers who put their lives at risk on a daily basis, and doesn’t really care about the wellbeing of the country, is making weapons, it is a red flag. If one is interested in only making money, there are several avenues in which they can invest and flourish. What’s the point of getting into the defense sector? I don’t really know. Do these businessmen want to be associated with nationalism while making money? Why? Isn’t earning money enough? Evidently, it’s not. Without naming any names, of course, this has happened several times over the years. Weapons, aircraft, and more have been bought and sold. Lives were lost, probes and investigations were conducted, and did it lead to justice? No, absolutely not. And that’s what happens with Kalee as well. Despite being responsible for the deaths of a platoon of soldiers and botching the mission of a second platoon, he walks away and goes on to build his empire.

Kalee’s ascent to becoming one of the most influential businessmen in India is kept under wraps. We get hints that he has made various factories producing all kinds of toxic stuff over the years by either bribing government officials or by straight-up killing them. Everyone from the agriculture minister to the health minister to people in the defense sector is in his pocket. The banking sector is ready to forgive Kalee when he gets crores of dollars in loans and then doesn’t repay them. Law enforcement agencies like the police also dance to his tunes and happily plant false evidence on his enemies to get them arrested or killed. There’s basically nothing to stop him from becoming the most powerful person in the country. So, when he learns that certain companies are looking to establish environmentally unfriendly factories and are unable to do so anywhere else because of strict environmental laws, he invites them to India. Why? Well, as per Kalee, the country doesn’t really care about the environment. The population is so high that if a few people die from climate change, nobody is going to bat an eye. Until and unless the numbers become alarming, they can continue to churn money and become trillionaires. I don’t know if “trillionaire” is a real thing at the time of writing this article, but I’m sure it’ll eventually become a reality.

Is there any truth to Kalee’s anti-environment policies? Yes, absolutely! Again, without naming any names, certain businessmen have cut down forests to make coal mines, set up power plants and solar panel factories while flouting environmental norms, and then there’s the usual use of private jets that only add to the carbon emissions that are destroying the planet. But businessmen get to do this because they have close ties with politicians. And these kinds of ties aren’t the ones that you have with your childhood friend, which are built on unconditional love. These relationships are transactional in nature. If the businessman can invest in a politician’s election campaign, the politician bypasses legal boundaries and helps the businessman make more money. In Kalee’s case, he takes a pretty hands-on approach when it comes to keeping the political party in power, which will allow him to do all kinds of anti-environment nonsense. He literally starts distributing money to voters—trailerloads of it. In real life, I suspect that the situation is similar. Even if it’s not that direct, there’s a pretty good chance that digital transactions come into play in one way or another.

With all that said, Jawan becomes unrealistic and a little too optimistic when it shows Kalee being defeated by Vikram and Azad. Yes, it needs to happen because Kalee’s “error” led to the deaths of soldiers; he tried to kill Vikram; he framed Aishwarya (Vikram’s wife and Azad’s mother); and he then forced Azad to live with the trauma of watching his mother die by hanging. And who doesn’t like a bit of fisticuffs and poetic justice? But the truth of the matter is that the real-life counterparts of Kalee will not be punished in any shape or form. They’ll flee the country, and the process will be facilitated by the people in power. If they get even a whiff of the fact that the power dynamic is going to shift, they will change their colors and back the political party that’s going to assume power. And in the meantime, they’ll ruin the lives of many Vikrams and many Azads. However, since it is impossible to do what Vikram and Azad do in the movie, we have to suffer in silence and watch them reach new heights while claiming how humane they are and how much they love the environment.

Jawan offers a simple solution: votes. But what does that mean when it comes to the relationship between industrialists, businessmen, politicians, and the general populace? How will our votes ensure that we don’t have to suffer at the hands of these crony capitalists? Well, we have to keep an eye out for politicians and political parties, their policies, who they are shaking hands with in order to fund their election campaigns, who they are claiming to be “best buddies” with, and what the history of this “buddy” is. In addition to that, I think we’ve got to stop idolizing businessmen, period. They are the flag bearers of capitalism. Why are you buying into their “rags to riches” stories and thinking that if you act like them, eat like them, and philosophize like them, you can become like them? You can be better than that. However, if you don’t want to be remembered fondly and just want to make money by trampling over the bodies of your own citizens, well, suit yourself. Anyway, all this is a roundabout way of saying that Kalee is probably one of the most realistic villains, and Vijay Sethupathi has done a good job of portraying the character’s arrogance and nonchalance.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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