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'Fan' review: Shah Rukh Khan's risk pays off

'Fan' review: Shah Rukh Khan's risk pays off

Source: Sify

By: Sonia Chopra

Friday 15 April 2016

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Movie Title

Fan

Director

Maneesh Sharma

Star Cast

Shah Rukh Khan, Joelle Koissi, Mariola Jaworska

The film is about a fan, the kind that worships their object of admiration, has the star's pictures on their wall, stands outside their home for hours just to get a glimpse, get into a fight if anyone derides their idol. Except here, almost as if the obsession had creepily manifested itself physically, the fan also looks like the star.

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So Shah Rukh Khan plays himself as superstar Aryan Khanna - a nice enough bloke who often climbs on the railing of his palatial home to wave out to his fans. In West Delhi's narrow lanes lives his lookalike Gaurav (also Shah Rukh Khan), who calls himself Junior Aryan Khanna and is obsessed with the superstar.

At the local colony competition, Gaurav wins every year for his impersonation of Aryan Khanna. This year when he wins, he thanks "the Aryan Khanna" on stage and decides to share the trophy with his idol. So with stars in his eyes, not unlike hopefuls who try their luck in films, he packs his bags and is off to Mumbai.

Gaurav has his itinerary picked - he travels ticketless like his idol did as a struggler (almost dying in the process), stays at the same dingy hotel, and also manages to get the same room number. Trouble brews when Gaurav gets too involved, and starts acting on the superstar's behalf, thinking he's doing him a favour.

Aryan is not without faults as well. When his manager (Sayani Gupta) warns him to not get into a tussle with his fan calling him sanki (eccentric/disturbed), Aryan unblinkingly asks, "To main kya hoon?" (What do you think I am?). Equally creepy is a scene where an upset Aryan, going to perform for a wedding, practices his fake smile in the mirror.

The equation between the fan’s unstable behavior and the superstar’s adamant behavior (the entire altercation ultimately hinges on one word!) is continuously tense. But not as tense as the story demands. The several chases added in the film (they go on and on), the extended action portions, and the finale dilute the tension instead of building it up.

Several times, the inside references to characters are obvious and one wonders if it's the makers taking a swipe at people. The private life of a superstar is shown as the luxurious haven it is perceived to be, but the superstar is not above being reprimanded by the bride’s father for showing up late for a wedding performance. In a very interesting insight, we cannot help but chuckle, when Aryan Khanna struggles to remember the names of the various relatives.

It is to Shah Rukh Khan's credit for taking on a fairly risky subject, and allowing such self-deprecating material (he is known for his comment on performing at weddings) in the script. But this is no ordinary Shah Rukh Khan film. Here the superstar is visibly thrilled to tackle this complex role (roles, actually) and relishes them with passion. He's wonderful as the superstar who faces trouble from the most unexpected source, and is even better as the fan who is so obsessed, he cannot differentiate between right and wrong.

The film may take you back to Robert De Niro's The Fan, which was a far more gruesome take on obsession. Director Maneesh Sharma and writer Habib Faisal attempt to go beyond the story of just a crazed fan, but one wishes they could exploit the story’s full potential making the film even more sinister. (The story is certainly a dark one, and I wouldn't recommend it for little kids.)

The duo tries to make the story multi-layered. The film often attempts to show us the faces-beneath-the face, as it were. So, when instigated, the fan’s true face is revealed; and Aryan then vows to show his true self, whatever that signifies. Is the Aryan from his struggling Delhi days the real one, or the established superstar living in a mansion the real deal? Who can say?

And that is the most intriguing, interesting part of Fan - the layered personalities of our two central protagonists, and the troubled equation they share. For a superstar perhaps, nothing can be more delightful and distressing than an obsessed fan. Especially when the fan turns fanatic.

Fan review: 3.5 stars