Fan Movie Review by Taran Adarsh

What happens when the object of dedication fails to respond to the demands of an obsessed fan? What happens when fanatical devotion of the fan turns into abhorrence and vengeance? And what happens when the fan — who has revered his idol all along — grows to be a stalker, becoming a nightmare for his idol?

Hell hath no fury like a fan scorned…

Does it sound preposterous or exaggerated? Not really! We’ve read/watched news — even movies — involving obsessive fans [of sportsmen and movie stars], who undergo behavioral changes and traverse paths, from being passionate to getting psychotic. Director Maneesh Sharma and screenplay writer Habib Faisal grab anecdotes from reality and serve an attention-grabbing premise on the plate, giving an altogether new spin to obsession and fanaticism. In FAN, the fan not only imitates his idol, but also resembles him looks-wise. Therein lies the difference… and the challenge.

Now to the pertinent question: Is FAN a freshly-packaged, contemporary version of Yash Raj’s cult classic DARR, with modifications of course? Or does FAN seek inspiration from Hollywood [remember the Robert De Niro-Wesley Snipes movie THE FAN; 1996]? Maneesh and Faisal may’ve used Bollywood as the template to narrate the story, but FAN isn’t about movies alone, since it brings to light the behavior of a fanatic who’s obsessed with the superstar.

FAN stands on two factors primarily: a fascinating plot that’s fleshed out delightfully for most parts and a powerhouse act by SRK, who returns as an antagonist after more than two decades [BAAZIGAR – 1993, DARR – 1993 and ANJAAM – 1994]. More on SRK later… However, the flip side is that the writing, especially in the post-interval portions, moves to an unrealistic zone, with a few episodes looking far-fetched. And that, frankly, robs the sheen after you’ve watched a brilliant first half.

First, the succinct plotline… FAN narrates the story of Gaurav, an over-obsessive fan, whose life revolves around superstar Aryan. In his desire to meet his idol, Gaurav embarks on a journey to Mumbai. However, his interaction with the man he hero-worships and idolizes fails to meet his expectations. Resultantly, Gaurav decides to get nasty and malicious.

Let’s not beat around the bush. FAN may not be the most original piece of work [moviegoers are bound to draw parallels with other films], but it packs light moments, emotions, tension and conflict in an unmistakably entertaining format. The plot twists in the first hour and a couple of episodes post-interval make FAN a compelling watch. The faceoff between the superstar and the viscerally dangerous fan is built on a strong edifice and definitely merits special mention.

Nonetheless, FAN is not without its share of flaws. Just when you thought that the film was moving on the right track, a few episodes in the second hour that abound in cinematic liberties make you wonder, was it necessary? You may argue, cinematic liberties are a commonality in Bollywood movies, but when you try to be as real as possible [in the first half], getting unreal all of a sudden catches you by complete surprise… or should I say, shock?

After attempting a couple of delectable rom-coms, Maneesh steps into an unexplored territory with FAN. He knows the craft and that’s evident in a number of skillfully executed sequences. What’s bothersome is that Faisal resorts to the customary tropes and standard techniques after a point. However, despite the blemishes, the writer delivers enough nail-biting moments as the cat-and-mouse tension between Aryan and Gaurav moves to an exceptional finale. Faisal along with Sharat Katariya also garnish the dialogue wonderfully, soaking the lines in realism and punctuating them beautifully in the dramatic sequences.

Casting SRK in a real-life part [as the superstar] makes the thriller bona fide, but, for me, it’s the intimidating fan that’s the driving force of the enterprise. It’s a feeling of déjà vu as SRK enacts a sinister and obsessive character after a hiatus — a part that catapulted him to superstardom in the 1990s. Nonetheless, the obsessive Gaurav is unlike Ajay/Vicky of BAAZIGAR or Rahul of DARR and so is SRK’s interpretation this time. What remains unchanged, however, is your reaction once the movie concludes. You carry home the antagonist, not the protagonist. If SRK is charming and believable as the superstar, he delivers a sterling performance as the fan with vengeance on his mind.

Shriya Pilgaonkar [Neha], Deepika Amin [Gaurav’s mother] and Yogendra Tiku [Gaurav’s father] are wonderful. Waluscha De Sousa [as Bela, Aryan’s wife] doesn’t get much scope. Sayani Gupta is first-rate.

The DoP [Manu Anand] captures the mood and texture of the film luminously, besides encapsulating some stunning visuals. The crisp editing [Namrata Rao] keeps the momentum right. The action [Oh Sea Young; stunt coordinator – India: Pervez Sheikh] is vibrant and the chases specifically catch your eye. Noted composer Andrea Guerra’s background score hits the right notes. The VFX are top notch. Also, SRK’s transformation as the young fan needs to be lauded.

There’s no place for the mandatory song-and-dance routine in FAN, since the narrative relies completely on drama and tension. The sole track [‘Jabra’], a rhythmic, foot-tapping song that’s filmed energetically, is missing in the film.

On the whole, FAN has a brilliant first half, but loses track in the second hour, only to pick up again towards the pre-climax. The writing should’ve been tighter, while the absence of music [it’s a songless film!] may also prove a stumbling block, but what works, and works big time, is the terrific act by SRK as the fan. And that’s enough reason for you to watch this thriller!

Rating: 3.5/5

  1. Author
    aryan 6 years ago

    Movie Review by Sukanya Verma

    What keeps Fan going is SRK’s star power!

    Solely as a script, Fan is an underwritten, messy construction of unrealistic proportions. But when viewed as a jugalbandi between Shah Rukh Khan and Shah Rukh Khan, the experience is unique and rewarding, feels Sukanya Verma.

  2. Author
    aryan 6 years ago

    Movie Review by Anupama Chopra

  3. cr7 6 years ago

    Who could do this film but Shah Rukh Khan?

    Conceptually, the basic idea propelling the narrative of Maneesh Sharma’s Fan appears deceptively simple — that of an obsessive fan, a bit of a cross between Misery and The King Of Comedy — and, judged from the surface, this film works like a slickly efficient Darr homage. Yet, behind the thriller-movie makeup it wears, there is so much more to Fan, a film that should be hailed for its satirical sharpness and for its subtle subversion. And it deserves to be celebrated for the way it allows the world’s biggest movie star to cleverly lampoon his own absurdly, inevitably inflated legend.

    For this is a film where Shah Rukh Khan crowns himself his own greatest admirer.

    Lookalikes don’t really resemble the celebrities they attempt to ape. Styled to accentuate a passing resemblance, they more often than not look like a wonky, wet-watercolour version of the real thing, something sculpted with less finesse and more raggedy edges. The fleeting moment of doppelgänger magic only takes place if and when they manage to find precisely the right light, the right angle and the right expression — for that one instant, the star’s the limit.

    Limit isn’t a word too familiar to Gaurav Chanana, a West Delhi cybercafe owner who dreams Mannat-sized dreams. The young boy bears a squint-your-eyes resemblance to the country’s biggest star, Aryan Khanna, and it is this similarity that fuels his haircut, his body language, his hopes and deepest desires. The fact that both these characters are played by Shah Rukh Khan is a revolutionary move, immediately setting this film apart from films like The Fan that it may well have been inspired by. Chanana’s voice is thin, chirpy, eager, but it is when he puts on Aryan’s voice (the first words he mouths in classic SRK fashion are also, tellingly, the title of an underrated Shah Rukh film, “Dil Se”) that, despite his visibly being a low-rent clone, the crowd believes in him. They willfully hold the scales up to their eyes because they want, for a moment, to buy into even this blurry similarity.

    Gaurav, on his part, believes solely in Aryan. His obsession with the star might not be purely platonic — he once shyly expresses a desire to be part of an item song with the superstar, and later refers to him as the love of his life — though it may have transcended such base desires. All he wants, he claims, is a hug. His earnest but naive methods to acquire said embrace are tremendously misguided, and a disgusted Khanna makes it clear he wants nothing to do with him. Having now found his supervillain origin story, the heartbroken and vengeful Gaurav decides to aggressively go after Aryan with all the rage of a lifelong devotee who has finally discovered his god’s feet of clay.

    Sharma stays warmly and affectionately sympathetic toward the likable fan till he snaps, after which the film goes darker and yet begins to appear more conventional. Don’t be taken in — Fan is never a template film, especially when it begins most to resemble one. This a film full of long and elaborate chase sequences, but these exist both ironically, in order to skewer the constant implausibility of Bollywood action setpieces, and, more crucially, to blur the line between fan and star: Can anyone do what the man on the big-screen can? Yes, literally anybody can — and, for the most part, they can do it better.

    Throughout the action there are clues to how blind faith in cinema steers you wrong. Gaurav, for instance, leaping from parapet to parapet in order to escape cops, begins to line up an impossibly filmi jump onto an air-conditioner grill only to be stopped in mid-air by a suddenly open window while a tubby cop lands on the grill and plunges to peril. In another action scene, set at the Madame Tussauds’ gallery in London, things escalate wildly while a near-perfect approximation of Salman Khan stands by waxily, watching and naturally doing nothing.

    It is a well-crafted, finely cast film, with significant performances from actors like Yogendra Tiku and Shriya Pilgaonkar, set against that precise Delhi detailing Sharma is so good at. Cinematographer Manu Anand plays up both similarities and the lack of similarities between the two protagonists with great skill, his camera often slithering around them in compellingly framed close-ups and over-the-shoulder shots. There are times the film, written by Habib Faisal and with dialogues by Sharat Katariya, blurs the line enough for us to mistake one character for the other, and this is not lazy writing but indeed poetic. People taking pictures around waxworks of famous people, for instance, are only too glad to believe that the guy who kinda-sorta looks like an actor must indeed be The Actor.

    The difference between the two SRKs is pronouncedly stark in one scene, but they completely, creepily, coldly turn on the exact same amount of charm in the next. Khan’s performance is an astonishing one, credibly creating both the young hungry-eyed kid falling back in an orgasmic swoon on beholding his idol in the flesh, as well as giving us the deeper portrayal of a superstar with such a fragile identity that depends far too much on perception.

    Gaurav, amping up his efforts to humiliate Aryan, brings the heat to the narrative, but not nearly as much as Maneesh does, this film eating away at both the public image — and, more importantly, the public caricature — of Shah Rukh Khan himself. Aryan Khanna sits disgraced in a prison cell while a British goon stands and pisses a few inches away, while a few scenes later he’s convincing a wealthy businessman that he’ll perform charmingly enough to entertain every guest at a family wedding. The word bribe isn’t mentioned but the film star does give policemen money for ‘expenses,’ and much later, right after a painful police interrogation, instantly, instinctively, automatically agrees to pose for a selfie with a female officer.

    The most scathing attacks may be saved, however, for those who misread. The film rightfully attacks the irresponsible and star-struck media scavengers through a smashing scene wherein a journalist tries to make a joke and Khan — sorry, Khanna (or is it?) — eviscerates her for laughing while they are speaking about a young girl being molested. And it deeply hacks away at the idea of the self-proclaimed superfan, an increasingly profane and vulgarly aggressive community in these times of social-media and constant online abuse. (To spell it out: Dear Salman fans who are already doubtless typing up swearwords based on how many stars this review has, please realise Sallu himself would not appreciate it. He might blush, even.)


    Take a bow, Mr Khan. Not only for a phenomenal, genuinely groundbreaking performance but for being bold enough to give us the sight of a boy wearing painted-on abs while aping you dancing in a song where you, according to rumour, wore painted-on abs. For a glimpse at a worn out 50-year-old man — massaging his temples, and stretching at the lines on his face — before turning on the high-wattage smile and stepping out to market his myth.

    Of course Shah Rukh Khan is his own biggest fan. It’s a rule that comes with the megastar territory, the need to believe in your own legend. What a film like Fan makes evident is that the rarified view from high up there may not always be the most pleasant. Especially when you’re looking at the fan in the mirror.

    Rating: 4.5 stars

  4. cr7 6 years ago

    FanRating: 3
    April 15, 2016
    Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Amin, Yogendra Tiku, Sayani Gupta, Waluscha DSouza, Shriya PilgaonkarDirector: Maneesh Sharma

    Fan, directed by Band Baaja Baraat’s Maneesh Sharma is constructed around an intriguing premise. Shah Rukh Khan plays a mega movie-star named Aryan Khanna, and also an obsessed fan of the star named Gaurav Chandna.Gaurav, who hails from Delhi’s decidedly middle-class Indra Vihar neighborhood, spends his every waking moment worshipping at the altar of his idol. His walls are plastered with Aryan’s pictures, his parents indulge his obsession with the star, and his homage to the actor’s dance numbers wins him the top prize at the colony’s local talent contest each year.Meanwhile Aryan, who is evidently modeled after Shah Rukh himself, was also once a middle-class Delhi boy whose meteoric rise in Bollywood is the stuff of dreams. Aryan lives larger-than-life in a sprawling home overlooking the sea, and he routinely shows up on his balcony to wave to the thousands of fans that have gathered for a glimpse of him below. These clips in fact, are real-life footage of Shah Rukh’s own interactions with his fans.In playing both the superstar and the creepy lookalike fan who stalks him, Shah Rukh bravely goes for broke, unafraid to visit some pretty dark places. It’s a refreshing change from the actor’s recent films, which barely required him to break a sweat while playing to the gallery in roles that appear to have been created solely for the purpose of furthering his ‘wholesome hero’ image.Having said that, it’s necessary to point out that Fan isn’t without its problems. There are moments in the film that defy logic and require complete suspension of disbelief. Like a scene in which Gaurav, who has made the trip to Mumbai to meet his idol, ends up doing something foolish in the hope of pleasing Aryan.That incident and its repercussion leaves Gaurav bitter towards his hero, and determined to exact revenge. At this point, his resemblance to Aryan – which was barely noticed or commented on by anyone – becomes a key tool in his payback strategy. He manages to fool everyone from fans, to the London police, to Aryan’s own wife, on the strength of this plot contrivance.There are other bits that jar as well. Why would a major movie star chase an offender through Delhi’s traffic clogged streets when he could put his men on the job? Questions like these pop up routinely through the second half, threatening to derail the film.It’s Shah Rukh’s committed performance, however, that keeps you invested in the narrative and the characters. Gaurav, whose resemblance to Aryan is the stuff of computer trickery and prosthetics, may be the more fascinating of the two leading men, not least because Shah Rukh plays him as a curious mix of pathetic and creepy. But it’s Aryan, which is the trickier role for the actor to pull off, given that it’s basically a version of himself. I think it’s incredibly brave of Shah Rukh to play the superstar as conceited and stubborn, and as someone unwilling to take any responsibility for the situation. The role cuts dangerously close to the bone; Aryan Khanna is unapologetic about dancing at weddings for cash.As I left the cinema having watched the film, I found myself conflicted about my feelings. There is so much to admire here, but it’s evident the filmmakers think they’ve made a smarter film than they actually have. Still, Fan works for the most part. And anyone who – like me – had grown tired and disappointed with Shah Rukh’s unwillingness to step out of his comfort zone will have reason to be a fan again. I’m going with 3 out of 5.

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