Fan is an apology, of sorts. Apology for making brainless cinema for nearly half a decade, apology for giving into marketing gimmicks and totally shunning the efforts to even prick at the viscera or the intellect of the loyal audience and an apology for not being Shah Rukh Khan, the acting powerhouse who drove hordes of fanatics to the movie theatres through sheer strength of his acting prowess and not through some contest titled “DILWALE ka slogan likho, Movie free mein dekho”. (yes, this was an actual contest just before the release of Dilwale)
When the trailer came out a few months ago, we had mixed feelings. Even the staunch Shah Rukh fans were surprised to see their larger than life star looking like a commoner, and those who were not his fans, called it narcissistic. But both fractions could not ignore the fact that this was something different, something we were ready to welcome.
Well, if your expectations have soared, we would like to warn you a bit. Fan is flawed cinema. Inspired slightly from the premise of the Robert De Niro movie “The Fan”, the first half is good as it juggles with two ideas. The first being how hero worshipping can turn into an obsession, especially in a country like India and secondly, how much does a star owe his fan. Stars are made by the loyal following of their reverers, but do they have the right to venture into their private lives? It makes for interesting viewing as we are introduced to the life of one such fan and how he uses his fanaticism and similar looks to make a name for himself in his locality. But first you will take some time to getting used to the face of Gaurav Chandna (Shah Rukh, playing the Fan and doppelganger of Aryan Khanna, again played by Shah Rukh) who looks ever so similar to the star, yet, is slender and has distinct mannerisms and way of talking. Kudos to Mr Khan for defining the character of Gaurav with the slightest of nuances and etching it convincingly so as to make Gaurav and Aryan two different personas.
The story gets trapped in the quadrum of Bollywood masala pits in the second half. The writers make it very convenient for Gaurav, now a jolted fan bent on revenge, to sabotage the reputation of Aryan and create preposterous scenarios to show the showdown between star and his fan. After a point, the chase sequences become tiring and the audience is left ruminating about what could have been done better instead of taking the oft repeated route of a Bollywood caper.
Maneesh Sharma, the director sketches both the characters convincingly. On one hand, he justifies the fanaticism of Gaurav and on the other, he shows the human side of the movie star Aryan Khanna. The movie is also easy on the eyes, and every frame looks lively on the giant screen. Be it the sequence on the dilapidated buildings in Mumbai or the chase sequence through the streets of Duvrovnik, the cinematography is lovely. Even the less assuming world of Gaurav, his memorabilia filled room looks amazing.
But this is a Shah Rukh Khan film. He acts, he cringes, he weeps and shows the gamut of emotions that normal fans feel. Even as Aryan Khanna, he mixes vulnerability with wariness in right proportions. The movie intentionally avoids songs and the trademark Shah Rukh Khan brand of romance. There is no leading lady as the movie makes its intentions clear that it is about a different kind of love story (or hate story as the film unfolds), the one between a Star and his ardent follower. The character of Gaurav, specially what we see in the first half, can be found in every locality in India which makes the plot of the movie so relatable. It also shows how the stars look bright and beautiful only from a distance and the more we try to get intimate with them, there is a fear of our sand castles coming crashing down.
It’s heartening to see a star like Shah Rukh Khan going out of his comfort zone to play a character we are not accustomed to seeing. Our heroes don’t get beaten up by petty goons! But Shah Rukh’s Gaurav gets kicked around. Our heroes need a leading lady and half the movie should be spent trying to woo her. Not this one. Our hero is a man of character and infallible. Not here, both Gaurav and Aryan are humans. Alas, the script and the stretched cat and mouse sequences pull the movie down. But one thing is sure, Shah Rukh respects the maturity and reach of the modern audience and this movie is an acceptance of that and an effort to make amends. We will wait for RAEES, Mr Khan!
gobblscore : 6.5/10
gobblpoint : a one time watch with good acting and an honest attempt at sticking to the story which the director set out to say instead of taking the diversions which Bollywood is so accustomed to.
Disclaimer: The images used in this blog are the sole property of the makers of the film. These are not owned by us in any form whatsoever.