Movie Review: Fan (2016)
Director: Maneesh Sharma
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Sayani Gupta, Shriya Pilgaonkar, Deepika Amin, with Yogendra Tiku, and Waluscha de Sousa in a guest appearance
Writers: Habib Faisal (screenplay & dialogues) and Sharat Katariya (dialogues)
Rating: 4/5 stars
Having sat down for the first-day-first-show of fan, I was tentative and super-excited at the same time. At one hand there was a feeling that SRK will be seen in an intense, engrossing film after quite some time, and on the other hand I couldn’t help but recollect the disappointment left over the last few years. By the time I was walking out of the theater, my mind was completely blown, all disappointments washed away, and a smile was plastered wide across my face, with joy and contentment swelling in my heart. I had just witnessed not only one of Shah Rukh Khan’s best films, but one of Bollywood’s best films ever; period! The SRK that ruled over millions of hearts through his sheer charm and talent was well and truly back.
To say Fan is a highly engaging, edge-of-the-seat, unpredictable, and even at-times-shocking thriller would be doing it a great disservice. Indeed it’s all that, but it’s also so much more. It’s a heartfelt ode and a stirring tribute to the superstar’s millions of fans the world over, especially the diehard one who literally live and breathe his name. However, it’s also a heartfelt plea – told through a terrifically entertaining plot – to all his fans to admire him, but never worship him, because, while he does love them, he, too, is after all only human, and can never live up to their every expectation.
It all begins with his doppelganger, Gaurav, whose character beautifully captures the unimaginable extents a fan can go to for their favorite stars. When Gaurav finally gets an opportunity to go to Mumbai, his every prayer is finally answered. Motivated with but one dream to meet and greet his idol, Aryan Khanna, his world comes crashing down when his disturbing display of love isn’t appreciated by the moviestar, and he’s told in no uncertain terms that he needs to get a reality check on life. After that, Director Maneesh Sharma weaves an intricate cat-and-mouse game of a common man going to unspeakable lengths to make his idol realize a fan’s worth. Whether or not his methods or at least some of the reason behind them are justified are beautifully left open by Sharma for you to decide. His sublime direction, leaves it up to you to choose whose side you want to be on.
The only places where Sharma’s direction falters is in the completely predictable climax – adding another unnecessary chase scene, making it one too many for the movie – and the entire Delhi sequence that ultimately links to the climax. It’s also hard to believe that Aryan travel to Delhi sans his coterie and roams around Delhi’s gallis like a simple common man without being recognized. Additionally, it gets a tad preachy at the end. However, much of the blame also lies with Habib Faisal’s shoddy scripting in such situations. Weren’t it for these haphazardly sewn sequences, I’d have given Fan a perfect score.
Complaints aside, there are a few scenes where the direction and writing stand out in triumph. One is when a massive crowd gathered outside Aryan’s house is slowly dispensing, and we see some of their belongings scattered around; a box of sweets brought by Gaurav for Aryan trampled upon in the commotion, which together act as a metaphor for how scores of fans get lost in the crowd each year, with their hopes to meet their idols dashed. Another scene, where Aryan is standing alone on a stage, the lights dimming around him, with an entire stadium lying empty, stands out for how it shows that stars are nothing without their fans. Gaurav makes Aryan realize this through a series of evil ruses – where he impersonates him at several global events after having studied him for a year – simply because he didn’t live up to his claim that he’s everything because of his fans.
Nevertheless, no matter how good Sharma’s direction is, regardless how entertaining and immensely engaging the plot is, Fan is an out-an-out Shah Rukh Khan show from start to finish. For all those missing the supremely talented performer of old, and for others who were having a field day questioning his script choices and acting prowess of late; the star actor silences them all in the only was one should – through his work. As Gaurav, he captures every emotion, every heartbreak, every pain, ever moment of insanity so delicately that at one point you actually feel sorry for the character, only to be reminded a moment later that he’s gone too far. And, as Aryan Khanna he’s all about the charm and magnetism that made us fall in love with him in the first place. Yogendra Tiku and Deepika Amin are also perfectly cast as Gaurav’s parents as is Waluscha de Sousa, who’s surprisingly effective in a bit part as Aryan’s wife.
Perhaps, the best aspect of Shah Rukh’s dual act is in how he convinces us that the two central characters are completely different personalities yet have some startling similar traits. And, all we can do is sit back, with wide-eyed wonder (despite the stretched-out finale), and find a bit of Gaurav in ourselves, too, while we fall in love with this enigmatic actor and undisputed superstar all over again.
Image Courtesy: Yash Raj Films