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HomeBollywoodThe Fascinating History That Made Shah Rukh Khan's Mask In Jawan Possible

The Fascinating History That Made Shah Rukh Khan's Mask In Jawan Possible

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Shah Rukh Khan in a still from the movie. (Courtesy: Anirudh)

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New Delhi:

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Shah Rukh Khan’s Jawan is a film like no other. The movie has collected over Rs 850 crore (worldwide) within 12 days of its release. From the charismatic screen presence of Shah Rukh Khan to high-octane action sequences and chartbuster music, Jawan has ticked all the boxes. One of the much-talked elements of the Atlee directorial was the many avatars of Shah Rukh Khan. Be it the bald look or the bandage get-up, SRK has nailed each avatar with utmost perfection. Oh, and how can we forget the half-mask look of SRK’s Azad? A fan recently claimed that it was “copied” from the 2005 Tamil film Aparichit. Well, the Internet has yet another story behind Shah Rukh Khan’s fancy mask. According to The Paperclip, a digital media house, masks were a “statement of defiance against the rigid social hierarchy” that dominated the Venetian Republic. Since Jawan is also aimed at addressing societal disparities, it prompted the protagonist [Shah Rukh Khan’s Azad] to convey the message while wearing a mask.

Explaining how masks bridge social gaps and the significance of SRK’s look in Jawan, The Paperclip shared a series of tweets on X (formerly called Twitter). It also has a Javier Mascherano connection. Mascherano is an Argentine football coach. 

The Venetian love affair with masks reportedly dates back to the 13th century when these disguises made their debut. According to The Paperclip, “The allure of the Venetian masks, those enigmatic disguises that have graced the faces of Venetians for centuries have enchanted many. If you’ve wandered into a Venetian mask shop during the Carnival in Venice, you know exactly what we’re talking about.” 

It continued, “For those unfamiliar, the city of Venice is more than just Gondolas. The Venetian love affair with masks dates back to the 13th century when these captivating disguises made their grand debut. But why did the people embrace these with such fervour?”

For Venetian people, masks were a “statement of defiance against the rigid social hierarchy that dominated the Venetian Republic.” In a city, where stark social disparities were at peak, masks gave rise to a “unique culture driven by the necessity to conceal one’s identity.”

According to The Paperclip, because Jawan also aimed to address social disparities, the protagonist – Shah Rukh Khan’s Azad – conveyed the message wearing a mask. “In Venice, masks provided anonymity, enabling people to shed inhibitions and shame, and exercise freedom during the carnival,” the media house added. 

Masks allowed Venetians to “socialise and exchange cultural notes”, “bond with people from different backgrounds” and seek “love and intimacy in public spaces.” Under the guise of these mystical face coverings, “commoners, aristocrats, outcasts, prostitutes, and dancers all became equals.” The masks worked as a “great leveller, granting a sense of freedom and empowerment to anyone who dared to wear them.” 

Venetian masks come in a dazzling array of styles, each with its own rich history and cultural significance, the Paperclip said. From the enigmatic Volto to the haunting Plague Doctor, the iconic masks have found a space in modern urban culture, where they continue to shine. 

According to The Paperclip, the half-silver mask Shah Rukh Khan wore in Jawan was likely “a variation of the Colombina mask, a la Phantom of the Opera, inspired by the namesake character from Commedia dell’arte.” This mask covers only the upper part of the face “because Colombina reportedly never wished to hide all her features.”

If the Bauta mask is concerned, it “erased gender and social boundaries.” The Bauta mask became a powerful political tool that erased class differences and stripped the elite of their power. 

“They brought about delightful ambiguity in self-expression, leaving both the government and the Church puzzled by sinners’ identities. Unintentional, but in the movie, a Venetian mask was a powerful choice to convey the message involving Dr Kafeel Khan’s incident,” the follow-up tweet read. FYI: Sanya Malhotra’s character Dr Eeram, who used to work at a government hospital before landing in jail, was inspired by the real-life story of Dr Kafeel Khan. 

Just like every great story has its setbacks, the Venetian mask culture experienced “a dark period of decline for centuries.” When the Fascist Government temporarily shuttered mask shops in the 1930s, the legacy was on the brink of fading until a resurgence began in the 1980s. 

“Going back to the medieval times, when the popularity of the masks soared in Venice, something magical happened, the mask-makers themselves rose from obscurity. Once a forgotten artisan clan in Italy, these skilled craftsmen and women gained newfound respect in society,” the digital media house reported. 

It added, “They [artisan clan] became integral members of their communities, even having their own laws and enjoying social privileges during medieval times. As we celebrate the colourful history of Venetian masks, we can’t help but wonder about the descendants of those esteemed mask-makers.”

The thread concluded, “They were known as “mascherari.” A Hispanic friend once mentioned that the surname Mascherano in Argentina possibly traces back to those medieval Italian mask makers. And, Javier Alejandro Mascherano might just be one of the torchbearers of this fascinating legacy.”

Jawan was released on September 7. Nayanthara and Vijay Sethupathi were part of the film. Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan co-star Deepika Padukone made a special appearance in the film.

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