Welcome home, Shah Rukh. What a triumphant return to form for an actor whose career has been lately beleaguered by sub-standard scripts and mediocre directors. This time Shah Rukh is in the mood to kill….And we don’t mean that just as a metaphor. As this far-from-frothy take on the very complex star-fan relationships develops into a ominous cat-and-mouse chase, Shah Rukh grips both the characters—yes, for those who came in late he plays both the star and the fan—in a firm grasp that makes us …simply gasp.
Shah Rukh is in full command of both the characters. He gives both Aryan and Gaurav ample room to grow, grow apart and then clash in ways that shows what skilful scripting can do to a superstar’s yearning to excel.
Outwardly playing Aryan Khanna, the superstar, would seem relatively easier for Shah Rukh than playing the obsessive fan. But playing the star is actually a far tougher task. Shah Rukh incorporates elements from his real life into the on-screen persona. Aryan Khan comes across as a very humane icon, there are bouts of charm and fits of rage going hand-in-hand here. He makes no attempts to deify himself. That’s what gives the narrative its muscle and lubrication.
As for the fan Gaurav Chanana, the prosthetics go a long way in creating a character who is so believable and yet so distinguished Aryan Khanna that it’s almost like two different actors playing the two roles. The voice, the body language and the complete character transformation, we’ve seen Shah Rukh do it in My Name Is Khan and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.
From the sunny to the sinister, Shah Rukh’s Gaurav Chanana takes us on a rollercoaster ride across a plot which is propelled by pungency. The superstar gets some valuable support from co-actors like Sayani Gupta, Deepika Amin and Yogendra Tikoo whose presence is skillfully woven into the darkly disarming drama of a duel between the dapper star and his distressed disingenuous doppelganger.
Writer Habib Faisal seems to tap into the fan’s inner-most adulation for the star. There is more angst than sweetness in the relationship. In scene after scene, even when the angry fan gets down to ‘create a scene’, Faisal conceptualizes the turbulent conflict between the idolized and the idoliser, with a keen eye on keeping the drama on a tight leash.
For a large part of the narrative the energy and mood are bridled and broken down to an acceptable and credible level. Director Maneesh Sharma films the duel of deception in bright colours that flatter to deceive. The bonhomie wears thin soon enough. When it does, the narrative is ready to shift gears with brisk adeptness.
A lot of the credit for bringing the two protagonists’ irreconcilable lives into a karmic clasp goes to editor Namrata Rao. She breathes an urgency into the proceedings without knocking the drama senseless. Towards the end, the plot begins to fall apart. Which, in a way, is what is only to be expected. Doom, you see, is a pre-condition in a relationship between unequals.
What Fan ultimately says about the star’s equation with his admirers is that tragedy awaits any attempt to break the barrier that divides the heroes from their followers. Every star who thinks he and she must mingle with the fans and “belong” with them must see this film.
Director Maneesh Sharma whose garbled take on love sex and live-in relationships in Shudh Desi Romance had my mind boggled and my head rattled, lends a lucid heft to the drama in Fan. Though the climax is not as strong as the rest of the film we come away from Fan with far more happy thoughts than we did from Shah Rukh’s other recent films.
Yup, this is the wapsi of the actor who was too engrossed in working with friendly directors to see that these ‘friends’ were doing to his career exactly what the fan sets out to do to Aryan Khanna’s career.