There is no doubt that Fan could not have been made with any other actor.

Film review Fan is all about how we desperately want to be loved Screenshot from Youtube
Flix Entertainment Monday, April 18, 2016 - 18:45

It’s a Shakespearean tragedy of sorts. There is a forbidden love story, a young brash lover, a generous streak of madness and the brash conclusion that can only be justified in a tragic love story.  

Fan tells the story of a superstar, Aryan Khanna, and his fan, Gaurav. The young man from Delhi lives in a room papered with Khanna’s face that looks remarkable like his. This only fuels his belief that the two share a special bond. Gaurav wants nothing more than to be recognised for his devotion.  

However, when his plans to impress the ‘love of his life’ go awry, he is filled with anger and hatred and vows to get even.  Where this journey into the revenge rabbit hole takes them is the film’s exploration over almost 150 minutes of running time.

Love is a quite a selfish beast, it is hungry for reciprocation, for acceptance, for acknowledgement — for accepting that someone let down their guard and made himself so vulnerable that another person could reach within and shatter his heart into a million pieces. Unlike the other emotions in our emotional tool kit, love is by far the most dangerous. It can give you purpose or drive you crazy.

In Gaurav’s case it pushes him over the edge. Like a man obsessed he stalks his object of unrequited affection around the world, trying to defame the man he once adored, and proving what one fan wronged can do. At times he does prove a point by emptying a theatre that would have been otherwise filled with thousands of crazy fans.

While the first half of the film stays in a dark, dramatic thriller space, the second half suddenly veers into action sequences, long elaborate car and bike chases and some rooftop drama that seems very inspired from the Bourne series. However just when you feel the movie is keeling over, it comes back to focus on its protagonist and his undoing.

The ultimate twist comes, though, when the star becomes a common man again, and in a few brief minutes shatters any glimmer of hope that Gaurav may have had. From there on its quite obvious which way the story will end. With his entire belief system shattered, Gaurav chooses an ever-after that he feels will put him in Heer-Ranjha, Romeo-Juliet space, where one forbidden love story hyphenates two identities together forever.

While the movie is about Gaurav and his descent into an abyss, it’s as much about Aryan Khanna and his struggle to remain one step ahead of his deranged paramour. The movie puts a spotlight on why fame and celebrity status are merely the collective mirage of a million people. Behind that sheer veneer of a messiah, a lover, a man who can do no wrong, is just a vulnerable, lonely, frightened, ageing man papering up the cracks in this palace of illusions.

It also rather poetically talks about the dichotomy of a man and a star. Both on the same planet, yet with a gulf between so deep that no amount of devotion can ever bridge the gap.

Aryan has worked to create that gulf, to be seemingly available for everyone to love, yet be totally unattainable. Access to him is only meant to be aspired for. Scarcity creates demand, and stardom is scarce and not be floundered. One blunder, one false step can threaten 25 years of perception and leave him back at square one.

At its core Fan is a film about being wanted, about how we desperately want to be loved and our lives witnessed — even the man who is already loved by millions, but knows that they are in love with the idea of him and not him at all.

Then there is the fan, who has genuine affection from many, but longs for the love of the one he can’t have. That which has given his otherwise ordinary life a sense of being special, and given him the courage that he is not just the guy next door — he is Aryan’s fan Gaurav.

It shows what could have been. The boy from west Delhi who has been the Baadshah, the King or whichever alliteration is the flavor of the month, could have been the fan, the boy next door, merely clawing at what he cannot have.

The real hero of the film though is Shah Rukh Khan’s diligent effort at playing the star and the common man that he once actually was. It gives us a glimpse into SRK’s world and why self-obsession is survival in an industry where everyone is the mask they wear.

While he does tend to go over the top with his portrayal of a 25-year-old Gaurav, there is no doubt that Fan could not have been made with any other actor. This movie required a star of Shah Rukh’s magnitude to justify and inspire such insanity and the devotion.

After a long time, we see the SRK who got lost somewhere in the maze of Raj and Rahul clones. Occasionally he came up for air with Chak De India, Swades and perhaps marginally even Asoka. But with Fan and now hopefully with Raees, he seems to have found a way out for a while, taken a break from being himself, and becoming a fan of the actor lying long ignored.

Take a bow Shah Rukh Khan, and for Fan take two.

 

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