Shah Rukh Khan’s Committed Performance Keeps You Hooked to Fan
Fan, directed by Band Baaja Baraat's Maneesh Sharma is constructed around an intriguing premise. Shah Rukh Khan plays a mega movie-star named Aryan Khanna, and also an obsessed fan of the star named Gaurav Chandna.
Gaurav, who hails from Delhi’s decidedly middle-class Indra Vihar neighborhood, spends his every waking moment worshipping at the altar of his idol. His walls are plastered with Aryan’s pictures, and his homage to the actor’s dance numbers wins him the top prize at the colony’s local talent contest each year.
Meanwhile Aryan, who is evidently modeled after Shah Rukh himself, was also once a middle-class Delhi boy whose meteoric rise in Bollywood is the stuff of dreams. Aryan lives larger-than-life in a sprawling home overlooking the sea, and he routinely shows up on his balcony to wave to the thousands of fans that have gathered for a glimpse of him below. These clips in fact, are real-life footage of Shah Rukh’s own interactions with his fans.
In playing both the superstar and the creepy lookalike fan who stalks him, Shah Rukh bravely goes for broke, unafraid to visit some pretty dark places. It’s a refreshing change from the actor’s recent films, which barely required him to break a sweat while playing to the gallery in roles that appear to have been created solely for the purpose of furthering his ‘wholesome hero’ image.
Having said that, it’s necessary to point out that Fan isn’t without its problems. There are moments in the film that defy logic and require complete suspension of disbelief. Like a scene in which Gaurav, who has made the trip to Mumbai to meet his idol, ends up doing something foolish in the hope of pleasing Aryan.
That incident and its repercussion leaves Gaurav bitter towards his hero, and determined to exact revenge. At this point, his resemblance to Aryan – which was barely noticed or commented on by anyone – becomes a key tool in his payback strategy. He manages to fool everyone from fans, to the London police, to Aryan’s own wife, on the strength of this plot contrivance.
There are other bits that jar as well. Why would a major movie star chase an offender through Delhi’s traffic clogged streets when he could put his men on the job? Questions like these pop up routinely through the second half, threatening to derail the film.
It’s Shah Rukh’s committed performance, however, that keeps you invested in the narrative and the characters. Gaurav, whose resemblance to Aryan is the stuff of computer trickery and prosthetics, may be the more fascinating of the two leading men, not least because Shah Rukh plays him as a curious mix of pathetic and creepy. But it’s Aryan, which is the trickier role for the actor to pull off, given that it’s basically a version of himself. I think it’s incredibly brave of Shah Rukh to play the superstar as conceited and stubborn, and as someone unwilling to take any responsibility for the situation. The role cuts dangerously close to the bone; Aryan Khanna is unapologetic about dancing at weddings for cash.
As I left the cinema having watched the film, I found myself conflicted about my feelings. There is so much to admire here, but it’s evident the filmmakers think they’ve made a smarter film than they actually have. Still, Fan works for the most part. And anyone who – like me – had grown tired and disappointed with Shah Rukh's unwillingness to step out of his comfort zone will have reason to be a fan again. I’m going with 3 out of 5.
Rating: 3 / 5
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