FAN review: A Gripping Watch

"This is one of the films that sticks around in our heads for long. Though the film is complete, a trifle sense of something left out...

"This is one of the films that sticks around in our heads for long. Though the film is complete, a trifle sense of something left out makes us all cringe and look for answers, which are quite oblivious to us."

15th April, 2016 was an eventful day for King Khan's fans- it was a red letter day for all of his admirers and well-wishers. This is no big secret: after all, a film that he termed as "very special" and "unique" was slated to be released on that day. Shah Rukh's fan clubs all over the country moved in groups and mass-purchased tickets to the first day, first show premiere of Khan's latest flick, "Fan". Much has been said that the lead character in Fan has similar traits to Rahul Mehra (played by SRK, again) in Darr. We'd like to put those rumors to rest: Fan is an extremely delightful watch for people of all age groups. It is a thriller, but quite unconventional from the rest.

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

The protagonist here is Gaurav Chandna, a Delhi-based obsessive follower of the Bollywood superstar, Aryan Khanna. From the first glance itself, Gaurav appears to be possessive and a tad immature character, grinning slyly, and at parts coyly, all through the film. Residing in Indra Vihar colony in the heart of Delhi, the audience comes to view him as a dedicated fan, who wins the "Super Sitara" competition organized by his colony. The cash prize totalling twenty thousand rupees is awarded to Gaurav, who embarks on a solo journey from Delhi to Mumbai- to catch a glimpse of his idol, whom he affectionately calls "senior" Aryan Khanna. But again, this is no ordinary fan: He deliberately travels without a ticket on the Rajdhani Express and yet manages to reach Bombay. There's more to the surprise- he even decides to pay double the rent to stay in a certain room number 205, where Aryan Khanna stayed after his tiring journey from Delhi to the financial capital, co-incidentally as a ticket-less traveller status!

This is a Bollywood film, and it is synonymous to say there has to be a twist. The movie acquaints us with Sid Kapoor, a newbie on the tinsel town who seems to miffed with Aryan. He has had a verbal spat with Aryan, and no doubt, the media harped on it, weaving an intricate mess of mud-slinging diatribes. Sid delivers a harangue and threatens legal action against Khanna, which seemingly does not go down well with Gaurav. He disguises himself as Sid's fan, and after much persuasion, Sid finally allows him to come over into his vanity van, alone. Sensing the opportunity, Gaurav intimidates Sid, and forcefully records a video by compelling Sid to publicly apologize for his demeanour. I wonder how far this logic works in real life. If it were so simple to gain access to superstars, everyone would've been clicking selfies all day long.  The next day, Aryan's secretary discloses to him a leaked video purportedly showing that Gaurav had forced Sid to make the statements. Aryan calls up Gaurav, who is ecstatic and is delighted to hear that his "God" would send a deluxe car to pick him up to his residence, Mannat. As he prepares to step into a heavenly paradise, he hears knocks on the door. Soon after the plainclothes sleuths ensure a tough chase through the rather dilapidated buildings of Bombay. It would be worthwhile to commend the VFX team here, as they have put on an absolute stunner, simulating every bit of real-life detail as is possible. He finally gets caught and is thrown into police custody.. and we all know what follows. Battered and bruised, he wakes up to see Aryan Khanna sharing an intense look, his eyes gleaming. He discloses that intimidating Sid was his own way to giving a birthday gift to Aryan. Aryan hits the nail in the coffin: he says by doing so, Gaurav was no longer is fan, and he doesn't have even five seconds to waste for this dirty mongrel.

The first half is a wacky-roller coaster ride: be strapped to your seats or you might get disillusioned. Let's be honest: if setting up the first half of a film was an art, then director Maneesh Sharma has ensured a masterpiece. A dark sense of foxiness prevails right through the beginning, but we're yet to see what really happens. The viewer is, by this point, delved deep into the innermost strata of this film. And then comes the second half.

If you've read critical reviews of Fan, you might presume that the subsequent chunk of the film loses its steam. Mistake not, this is where the action begins. Gaurav makes up his mind to defame Khanna, whom he once revered. We are, interesting enough, not told how this simple Gaurav Chandna gathers enough moolah to finance his foreign tours. He appears at various public places as a lookalike. The first victim to this duplicity is Madame Tussaud's, London. Chandna terrorizes the visitors at the prestigious wax statue museum, even damaging Aryan Khanna's statue. He then changes suit and escapes as a visitor. In all this, Aryan has been asked by Mr. Butiyani, a billionaire, to perform at his daughter's wedding. The lookalike is here as well: he dials up Aryan to let him know that his fan is still awaiting a "Sorry", and he inappropriately molests a woman at the reception. Soon enough, the real Aryan arrives and has to face the wrath of Mr. Butiyani, who asks him to leave. He calls a media conference, effectively warning all of the havoc Gaurav is wrecking around. Gaurav watches the show on his television, but his impish delight is short-lived. He soon receives a call from Khanna, who has reached Gaurav's home in Indra Vihar colony, Delhi. Afraid, Gaurav warns Aryan of the implications. Aryan ties together a fantastic plot, and now he dresses up as Gaurav in the local fest once again. He however, refrains from performing Khanna's acts, but rather proposes to Gaurav's girlfriend, Neha, onstage. Deemed inappropriate by the community, the real Gaurav Chandna finds all of this unbearable, and fires a shot. Next? There's chaos everywhere, and Aryan chases Gaurav, only to find him bruised and bleeding. He confronts him at the terrace, and asks him to become something else rather than a fan. Gaurav brings back that uncomfortable hint of smile, and jumps off the terrace, proclaiming, "Fan hai, tu nahin samjhega!". There's a sudden sense of void, a sudden feeling of something amiss.

The movie is song-less, and there are no heroines in it. But that is no issue in itself, as the plot is so involving that it keeps our focus on the chase between the star and the fan. I particularly don't find it a problem at all, and would rather like to extol that such films need to be made more frequently than is today.

This is one of the films that sticks around in our heads for long. Though the film is complete, a trifle sense of something left out makes us all cringe and look for answers, which are quite oblivious to us. If we look at history, remarkable films are those that have a message and are unconventional in nature. Fan is one such motion picture. Shah Rukh is no longer the mushy romantic boy we all loved, but he is the eccentric Gaurav at one hand and the calm Aryan on the other. If someone is to learn role-switching, there would be no better exponent that Khan. It is the outlandish Gaurav who hogs most of the limelight, although at the end is rather made the antagonist. This transition from being the protagonist to the antagonist is a rare skill, and not many films feature such a metamorphosis. In the words of King Khan, Fan was never designed to be a Box-office winner. With Fan, our very own SRK has proved that he still is capable of achieving the unthinkable. There would be no surprises if this film does conquer the Filmfare awards. SRK, after all, has belted out one of the most remarkable films of his career till date.

Rating: 4.5/5

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  1. Good review. Just that bollywood and logic are alienated twins... Who are seated by the milky way.... 😀

  2. Gaurav also mentioned that "Tu ne mere ko SORRY nahi bola" .. The SORRY thing was what triggered Gaurav to persuade the chase. Anyway a good review. :)

  3. Good review...
    You could have also added the VFX and make-up used in the movie that turned a 50 year old actor to a 25 year old boy. Hats off...