The dictionary tells us that a “Fan” is an enthusiastic devotee of either a performing celebrity or a sports star; experience has taught us that one might also be a fan of various activities, like playing a musical instrument, painting, or reading thrilling novels about spies . The dictionary goes on to define ‘fan’ as an ardent admirer.
But circling back to the first definition offered above, in most cases, such fans are happy to watch their idols as a spectator, or from a distance.
But as we know, a fan can become a fanatic, or even worse an obsessed fan who desires to be in contact, as in close contact.
Some times they go so far as to stalk the subject of their fandom. This isn’t good.
Now have a look at the trailer (with English subtitles) of this new film from India which has had a five-week run in select theaters in the USA. The film is called Fan.
This film stars Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) as the both the fan and the huge movie star. That’s right. Through the magic of CGI tweaks and the magical skills of make-up artists, SRK can appear on the screen in two roles at once. You can see that the likenesses are so very similar but quite clearly ‘different’.
The film begins in Delhi, where a young boy, named Gaurav Chandna first becomes aware of this Indian superstar actor named Aryan Khanna.
For Gaurav, Aryan Khanna was the larger than life super star who would soon occupy all of Gaurav’s time and attention.
By the time Gaurav became a young man, for him there was nothing else. He was beyond scrapbooks and photos. He had literally no wall space in his bedroom that wasn’t already covered by Aryan. Gaurav knew all the lines of dialogue from all of his idol’s movies. He knew the gestures, the expressions, and the set of the shoulders, or how and where each of the moving parts of Aryan would be when he walked and talked.
Gaurav would enter and win contests where people would imitate celebrities. His plan was to go to Mumbai on the occasion of Aryan’s birthday and present Aryan with the latest trophy he had won. He would stay in the same hotel, even the same hotel room where Aryan stayed when he came to Mumbai years ago as a nobody looking to break into the Bollywood film world.
Of course this was easier said than done. Outside of Aryan’s home, on the birthday, were throngs and throngs of people. All avid to catch even a glimpse of Aryan.
But Gaurav had done more than just push his way to get closer. He had done a nasty trick against a young and rising movie idol, one Sid Kapoor, who was now getting the roles that Aryan used to get. When Aryan got wind of this, he had the police arrest Gaurav and lock him up for a couple of days.
Ultimately Gaurav did meet his idol, but it didn’t go as planned. Aryan Khanna had a lecture for this fan, but no time for his biggest fan.
Can’t I have five minutes of your life? asked Gaurav.
It is my life, replied Aryan Khanna. Why must I give you even five seconds?
And that pretty much wraps up the 1st half of the movie. Gaurav is a clever person in his way, but considering what he was after, which was and always will be less than fulfilling. The dream is always better than the reality. Only Gaurav had no sense of that.
SRK buried himself in the role of Gaurav. As Khanna, SRK had it easy. Khan the movie star played Khanna, the movie star. So it was less of a challenge for him. Except that by reducing Gaurav’s dreams to ashes and bitterness, SRK the actor had to play the role of some one who, while not a true or total heel, became someone who had no problem in disappointing, or maybe I should say crushing the dreams of this particular fan.
As Gaurav. SRK had to play someone who wasn’t living in the real world. His world was what would be for most of us, a fantasy, you know meeting a big star, or the biggest star. He, SRK had to set aside his own reality for half the time in this film – to portray Gaurav – yet SRK also had to be a movie star. You know, with assistants, managers, drivers, press aides, and all sorts of handlers.
Plus he had to deal with screaming fans wherever he went. Such as it is in real life, so it was for Khan as Aryan Khanna in Fan.
But the second half of the film (in Indian film venues, there is a literal intermission – while here in the USA we only see the word Interval – the film does not stop) the film turns itself inside out. Under the direction of Maneesh Sharma, working from Habib Faisal’s screenplay – the film changes from an inside look at stardom and obsessions that fans can have to an out-and-out thriller.
Remember Gaurav has been chastened, humiliated, even jailed. From being Khanna’s biggest fan, he would now become Khanna’s biggest enemy. We leave Mumbai and make stops in Dubrovnik in Croatia, then London, and even Blenheim Castle in the UK countryside.
There’s action galore that borrows from Bourne and Bond which includes motorcycles and chases across Dubrovnik rooftops. To be quite honest, these action set pieces were indeed thrilling and very well done. But sadly, they were also predictable.
My take is that Fan tossed aside a psychological cat & mouse game, that is once Khanna knew who and what he was dealing with, and offered up a good, even truly exciting second half. Yes there were some moments of stealth and terror for Khanna’s family – but it seemed more the product of a screenwriter’s imagination than what one could expect to happen in the real world.
Fan played 5 weeks in the USA and did some worthwhile business but truly outstanding box office numbers did not happen. While I was still in Sarasota, the film played at the Regal chain theater. Then here in Pooler, Georgia – I was able to see the film. On another note, I was the only person who had purchased a ticket for a midweek afternoon screening.
That said, I would recommend the film. Likely you will be able to buy a DVD of it in the not distant future. My rating for Fan is three-point five on the one to five scale.