Director: Maneesh Sharma
Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Joelle Koissi, Mariola Jaworska
Gaurav Chandna is your everyday impersonator who swears by his idol Aryan Khanna(Shah Rukh Khan), and lives in the hope of having a 5 minute conversation with him. After winning a local talent hunt, where he imitates Khanna, he decides to go to Mumbai and meet the man himself. It is not hard to spot that Aryan Khanna is loosely based on SRK. Shah Rukh Khan stars here as the overly attached fan Gaurav Chandna. He also stars as the superstar Aryan Khanna. Fortunately, he resists the temptation of appearing in drag as the main female lead as well.
The first half of Fan is a breeze and makes for very easy viewing. It is towards the second half where things pick up pace, but then end up going nowhere. Surprisingly, there are little to no musical interruptions in the movie. This might be a small step forward for Bollywood, but a big step forward for Yashraj Films.
The second half is cramped with chase sequences, during which characters miraculously develop parkour skills. SRK does a worthy job of pretending to do stunts that were performed by stunt doubles. The constant cat and mouse games get old after a while.
The trailers of the film successfully created a generous amount of interest. But the trailers these days, which are a lot like drunk friends, end up revealing way too much information. As a result, it was not that hard to guess where things would be going.
To start off, the film earns an extra star for not being directed by Rohit Shetty. With Happy New Year, SRK had set the bar quite low. With Dilwale, he had taken that bar and thrown it in the garbage. With Fan, he tries to redeem himself and succeeds…almost.
After years, SRK plays someone who is not the perfect husband, lover, brother, neighbour, grandson etc. If there is one reason to watch Fan, it is SRK’s take on the character of Gaurav Chandna. By far, the most exciting role he has taken on in the past few years, he creates a compelling portrait of the thin line between overly enthusiastic fan, and the intrusive stalker. His mannerisms and body language are clearly something he’s worked well on, but it is the VFX team that deserves major credit here. Ironically, SRK as Aryan Kapoor( who is based on SRK himself), botches it and the script relegates him to being a one-dimensional figure. To his credit, SRK does take generous digs at himself. For instance, his well-known penchant for dancing at rich weddings is briefly brought up.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Shah Rukh not milk his Shah Rukhess to maximum effect. Be it the outstretched arms, being the perfect lover or corny dialogue, SRK has always been unabashedly SRK for a large portion of his career. His portrayal of Gaurav here will surely serve to humanise the gigantic force that he has become.
Shah Rukh Khan started his career as a villain, and a promising one at that. Be it Anjaam, Baazigar or even Darr, he had the villain act down. His role here might not be as good or as over the top as the previously mentioned performances, but it is definitely memorable.
Even though SRK does not have a problem with coming across as a jerk as Aryan Khanna, it is kept very subtle. Although not afraid to be seen as mean, he never really crosses over into dark places. There is always the underlying awareness that Aryan Khanna is SRK, and he has to be likeable for his movies to sell. As far as a star mocking oneself goes, Akshay Kumar’s portrayal of an alcoholic Akshay Kumar in The Shaukeens skewered everything the real Kumar stood for and will remain the benchmark for mock autobiographical roles for a while to come.
Suspension of disbelief is a big part of enjoying movies, but the progression of the story here is not convincing enough to make that happen. At one point, to malign Aryan Khanna’s image, Gaurav dresses up as the star and creates a ruckus in Madame Tussauds museum. This leads to the real Aryan Khanna being arrested. Gaurav does a string of other such acts, which cause Khanna to be reviled and disowned by most. That the supposed fans of the star do not to identify an imposter from close proximity is very hard to believe. Also, somewhere in the second half, the real SRK argues with fake SRK which leads the real SRK to say he’s going to deal with fake SRK like a true ‘Dilliwalla’. He then proceeds to confront the fake SRK at his home, alone; one on one. I found this scene hard to believe as well, since a true dilliwalla would first call up 20 friends, who would call 30 more.
The final confrontation, set on the roofs of Old Delhi have a straight up slug fest in which both men are battered, and the lesson here is that the only person who can kick SRK’s butt is SRK. The climax is highly anti-climactic, and the moral lessons delivered by SRK at the end serve as a bucket of water on an already dying fire.
Fan plays with the notion of feeling of false kinship that movie stars unwittingly create. At the end of the day, the film, which is about the perils of putting a celebrity on a pedestal, will ironically earn hundreds of crores due to the very same phenomenon.