Shah Rukh Khan – The name itself spells a big film, if not a good film. Over the years, many have complained arduously about Khan’s lack of efforts in picking scripts and films, and intermittently succumbing to rehashed concoctions or sub par servings, packaged, garnished and decorated well enough to be shoved down your throat via extensive marketing. Some of this marketing has made people averse to watching his films or similar star vehicles, while others continue to feed on them raking in the numbers. But things changed with Dilwale, in December 2015. When another biggie clashed with it, Dilwale suffered and the numbers tapered into an abyss faster than SRK would have imagined.
In last many years, I have seen atleast three dozen posts which basically ask, Where is SRK, the actor? While he does have the right to choose the films he wants to do, it is quite clear that the audience sees more potential him than Dilwale. Fair enough. So there you go, Yash Raj Films’ FAN is here and Shah Rukh gives you a performance to cherish for years. No kidding, the man is so bloody good in this that he not only wins your heart, but also tells reminds you that he has not sold his skills for scrap. I was always a fan of his personality off screen, but here, he has made a jabra fan out of me for his acting. Move aside detractors, you can call him ham king, or whatever, I refuse to pay any credit to your imbecile charade. So try and convince me against it.
SRK’s performance aside, Director Maneesh Sharma’s Fan has a lot to offer and yet, it gets shortchanged by its share of flaws. Gaurav Chandna (SRK with baby fat and Bugs Bunny teeth) is an ardent fan of superstar Aryan Khanna (SRK again, modeled on his real life) so much so that he cannot imagine his life without him. His ultimate dream is to meet him, give him his mom’s sweets, and a trophy which he won at mimicking Aryan at a local competition in Indra Vihar Delhi. Gaurav follows Aryan’s footsteps, travels WT (without ticket) from Delhi to Mumbai, stays in Hotel Delite in room no. 205 and goes to Mannat, Bandstand to meet his favorite star. When he is unable to meet him, he finds a twisted way of making the star call him. Having crossed the line, Aryan pushes Gaurav to jail and tells him to stay away from him, denying him the five minutes Gaurav came all the way for. Gaurav turns to vengeance, follows Aryan around the world and uses his similarity of looks with Aryan to shame him time and again, at different venues. Harrowed by an ordinary fan, Aryan must confront him in his style as the star in him is too stubborn to apologize.
Habib Faisal‘s screenplay ranges from great endearing moments of fandom to believable contrivances to a completely unreal last half hour of the film. Yes, as most other reviews are saying, the curse of the second half plagues Fan. But what they don’t tell you is what went wrong. Fan sets up Gaurav’s world stunningly, takes him to Bombay and everything upto his first meeting with Aryan rings true. The treatment is real.
Post the intermission, Maneesh decides to flip the film and dish out a larger than life treatment. The screenplay is equally at fault for continuously using one conflict to fill the runtime in the second half. But the basic problem is the mismatch of treatment styles in narrative. Also, it might work better if you could imagine Aryan differently from SRK in reality, but the character is modeled so close to him, that it removes the opportunity to think of him to be anyone else. By the time the film reaches its climax, you find yourself cringing in your seat at the make believe.
That apart, Faisal and Sharma do well to not portray Aryan as an invincible, incorrigible star. One might call it narcissistic but if SRK had to be really narcissistic, he would have never signed this film. His spin off, Aryan, is stubborn, conceited and refuses to accept any fault of his own. He dances at weddings despite insult, uses influence to get out of legal trouble and even picks up a gun. I do not believe that any other star of SRK’s stature would be okay to play Aryan the way he is characterized. On the other hand, SRK’s Gaurav is a totally fresh character and the one that stays with you long after the film has ended. There is also a moment where Aryan has to mimic Gaurav and he does it with a wonderful nuance. Its true that no other actor gets much scope of performance but Shriya Pilgaonkar does leave an impact as Gaurav’s girlfriend. Sayani Gupta is okay while Waluscha DSouza as Aryan’s wife does not get much scope.
Produced by YRF, Fan has the big scale and budget any such movie should have. Andrea Gurrea‘s background score does get a bit much at times but the theme song works well. However, it is Vishal Shekhar’s Jabra Fan Anthem, penned by Varun Grover, that has stolen the show and connected with the audience across. Sadly, it was only meant to be a promotional song. Manu Anand‘s cinematography offers nothing new except in three smartly done chase sequences and one confrontation scene between Aryan and Gaurav, right before intermission. Namrata Rao‘s editing could have been a lot better, but Niharika Bhasin Khan‘s costume design is spot on. Greg Cannom has designed Gaurav’s look and it does help in establishing his character well. However, the supervision of the makeup could have been better as one does feel that it is not uniform in many scenes.
Overall, Fan is a very brave attempt from YRF and Maneesh Sharma but as a general audience, you are likely to not like the film due to its second half. What keeps you engaged is a bravura performance by SRK, one which you have been waiting for years. The film has taken a mixed start at the Box Office, collecting approx 20Cr in the domestic market on the first day. I do not expect the word of mouth to be uniformly good and the film lacks song and romance to make it appeal commercially. One can only hope that the loyal audience flocks the theaters to recover the humongous costs the studio has incurred on the film. If you go by me, I would watch it again just for that performance!
Rating – 3/5
P.S. If you think this is a biased fan’s review, please feel free to make peace by skipping a different, but not great, film!