Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Waluscha de Sousa, Sayani Gupta
Director: Maneesh Sharma
Just when you thought Shah Rukh Khan is losing his edge, he makes a comeback. And how? Going back to his early acting days, where twisted characters gave him his big break, Bollywood’s king of romance still has what it takes to give you the creeps.
Though one of the better Shah Rukh Khan scripts in years, Fan is not devoid of holes, but it still makes for a thrilling watch. With the actor playing the two main characters in the film, especially two that are at such odds with each other, it can’t be easy to keep a smooth narrative. However, Fan may just well be an inward journey for Shah Rukh Khan where his large celebrity persona meets the humble old him that represents the thousands of his fans.
The premise: Superstar Aryan Khanna (Shah Rukh Khan) started out small. He didn’t bother to buy train tickets and stayed in a small, claustrophobic hotel when he first set foot in Mumbai. His insatiable greed for success and an indomitable spirit eventually makes him one of Bollywood’s biggest success stories; a brand unto himself (sound familiar?).
Gaurav Chanana (also Shah Rukh Khan) is a 25-year-old who runs a cyber cafe in West Delhi’s Inder Vihar. Unusually confident, he’s a pro at mimicking his idol Aryan. A ‘best actor’ trophy in a local competition gives him a new purpose in life: Now he wants to show his trophy to Aryan. Like a true fan, Gaurav traces Aryan’s journey in Mumbai – he stays at the same hotel, travels without a ticket… but when he finally reaches the star’s house, the boy from Delhi is lost in the sea of other fans like him.
After much planning, Gaurav meets Aryan, but the encounter is nothing he expected it to be. A disillusioned Gaurav tries his best to persuade the star to show some gratitude to his fans, but Aryan is too narcissistic to share his credit with a million people.
This is where the story truly begins.
The conflict between the two arises from the fact that Aryan Khanna is not the same person he projects to be. He is menacing and mean in real life, but takes a moral high ground on certain issues. He is in awe of himself yet wants to sustain an image which doesn’t hurt his fans’ adulations. But, he is also not ready to acknowledge their contribution to his stardom. Nevertheless, he is human, and is scared to lose it all.
Gaurav is a sharp antithesis to this. He is a regular Joe; he is intelligent but impractical and disconnected from reality. His protective parents indulged him always and never discouraged him from doing crazy Aryan Khanna-inspired antics. When we’re introduced to Gaurav, his mannerisms subtly hint at his cynicism, and the lengths to which he’d go to meet Aryan Khanna. But the question is: How far can he go?
The thrill of the movie is watching Shah Rukh Khan trying to one up himself. It is Shah Rukh versus Shah Rukh.
Director Maneesh Sharma gives Khan a chance to be self-indulgent in a film that celebrates his Darr-Baazigar-Anjaam days. In a way, Sharma demands the superstar to surpass his previous hit roles. But Shah Rukh walks a tight rope, for he plays both an ageing superstar and a no-name nobody.
With his years of practice, SRK aces this role with ease. We see film stars making appearances at wedding parties or ready to do anything as long as they are getting paid. Aryan Khanna is no exception. He is humiliated in the process, but also understands the value of his stardom. Self-deprecating humour and honesty is what makes Aryan Khanna a character to watch out for.
The dialogues stand Fan in good stead. Sharat Katariya, the dialogue writer, stays true to origins and renders the Delhi tone to Shah Rukh’s Mumbai-ness. He is also the one responsible for giving Gaurav a lovable outlook.
Though Fan is irrational at times, it keeps the adrenaline pumping all 143-minutes of the movie. Also, the idea of keeping it a song-less film works because that keeps the overdramatic tone from seeping in. It’s a total throwback to Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘90s avatars, but he once again shows how good he still is in that genre.
Maneesh Sharma may appear inspired by Hollywood, but he keeps Fan original enough.
As a whole, Fan delivers what it promised in the trailers. Logic may not be its strong point, but Shah Rukh most definitely is; he’s back in his element after a long time. Watch it for him.