Fan (2016) Review: The stupendous achievement of ‘Fan’ is that Shah Rukh Khan underplays the character of a stubborn Superstar ‘Aryan Khanna’ and the character of an obsessive, delusional, naive fan ‘Gaurav’ with such flair that you don’t mind the partially blotched second half of the film. Playing Aryan Khanna was tricky with the character modeled on his own stardom & personal space; he has SRK’s sense of humor, his fame, hailing from a middle-class Delhi family, it has everything constructed around him as SRK in real life. Still, Aryan comes as the distinctive character, far from the ShaRKism touch. SRK unlearns everything he has been doing since the release of ‘MNIK,’ and dons the flesh of ‘Rahul’ from Darr in the plot partly inspired by ‘The King of Comedy,’ and makes Gaurav so exclusive that you might consider him a different actor altogether.
Fan opens with a montage of SRK’s inception as an ‘actor’ to his plump ‘Superstardom,’ with the voice-over by Gaurav, on his love and obsession as Aryan Khanna’s fan that resonates the musing of every fan of every celebrity. Gaurav’s obsession is sweet but frightening, endearing and palpable but bordering on insanity. One moment you empathize with him, and suddenly he does something that makes you question your own morals for rooting for him. After winning the local competition where he pays homage to Aryan Khanna, Gaurav, aka Junior Aryan, embarks on the journey to Mumbai to hug & chat with his Godly figure Idol tracing the same exact journey as him.
Characterization of Gaurav has been done quite smartly, fusing the love and hate relationship of a die-hard fan without making a hero or anti-hero out of it. Credit goes to Maneesh Sharma & Habib Faisal for deft writing that renders pragmatic texture to Delhi-based Gaurav, at least in the first half. Overall doomed journey of Gaurav and his ill-fated meeting with Aryan Khanna has been dealt with maturity, keeping it grounded in the real world, which is quite evident from Maneesh Sharma’s body of work. Maneesh understands the nerve of middle-class people and writes characters that feel like they are among us. When we see the first encounter between Aryan and Gaurav, the way Maneesh has handled the character of Aryan & SRK has performed it, we see Aryan peeling off his stardom and talking like a common man with Gaurav.
The crack shows in the second half, ‘on a surface level’ when Maneesh Sharma & Habib Faisal goes to foreign soil to have grand sets for the face-off between the Fan & the Idol. It certainly has a bump in its screenplay, and it does hurt for a while. But I guess that was partly intentional. If you observe a little carefully, it works as a satire. Takes a strong jibe at SRK’s own career and stardom. Bold enough to show his vulnerable side and mock his own faltering phase in his career as an actor.
Minute details, if overlooked, will not reward you in the way they intended to. For the chase scene in Dubrovnik, which looks stretched but it is fun to see how literally Gaurav makes Aryan chase his fan and does mockery of how Bollywood does the chase scenes in a foreign land. Or how forcefully Aryan swallows his pride when a big shot reminds him that he has paid a hefty amount to perform at his daughter’s wedding. Would applaud Maneesh Sharma’s audacity for not including an item number when it looked quite evident. Any other director, I am sure, would have used wedding dance as an opportunity to include a dance number.
Fan (2016) is not a flawless film, but it still makes for a good watch. ‘Fan’ wouldn’t have been half of the film it is without Shahrukh Khan’s performance, he keeps you glued till the very end. His portrayal of the fan-boy Gaurav is quite phenomenal. Challenging enough to bring the best out of him. Right from his body language, his dialogue delivery, his mannerisms & also the way he portrays his agony.