MY “FAN” REVIEW IS AS LONG AS THE FILM ITSELF…
Some may argue that Fan isn’t worthy of an in-depth analysis. Some may also even agree with the fact that Bollywood films in general don’t deserve much dissection. While “haters” might have valid points to their argument on the impracticality of Bollywood films, sometimes the meaning of the film is drowned by its decoration.
In other words, the cake is still a delicious, rich, layered cake; even if you may not like the color of the icing. Movies in the Bollywood industry tend to have cheesy dialogue, random music numbers, and over-the-top plots. However, you’ll soon discover the deep history and cultural significance with each bite you take.
And with this cake, Shahrukh Khan has baked another tasty one. I can see how the “icing” in this film are the drawn-out action scenes and unrealistic plots within the movie. (No more mention of cake, promise). However, the risky choices both Shahrukh and the filmmakers made in putting together this film are reason alone to watch it. The acting, visual effects, and redefinition of love and Bollywood cinema have made a strong impact.
Bottom line, it’s still a love story. A twisted one if you will, but a love story nonetheless. A love between a devotee and his God, between an admirer and his inspiration, between a fan and his star. We’ve seen evidence of this passion in Shahrukh Khan’s old films such as Darr. Where the character goes to ends for his loved one. In this case, the movie portrayed a non-sexual infatuation that a fan has with its idol. Interesting choice that the fan was a male, let alone the fact that Shahrukh played two completely different characters. The way Gaurav, the fan, admired his star, Aryan Khanna, was brilliant because it was a depiction of universal love. Gaurav wasn’t gay nor had sexual feelings for Aryan. At least no note of that was made in the film. He was just a young man who happened to sacrifice his life for his version of God. We could go deep and say it’s as similar as people killing themselves and others in the name of God. But, I won’t pass boundaries there. Gaurav was normal. He wasn’t psychotic. His priorities and his risk-taking were different from others. But to each their own, and as Gaurav says, “Rehne de, tu nahi samjhega” (Forget it. You’ll never understand).
As many critics, reviewers, and the Baadshah himself have pointed out, certain aspects of this film have not been done before. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a Bollywood film with no songs or heroine to romance. But, it’s a concept that filmmakers are still experimenting with. And for the King, it’s unique. Personally, I would have loved to have seen the Jabra Fan promotional song in the movie. It’s always nice to revel in music and dance, but the movie was still complete without the added elements.
Playing two complex characters, where one is half your age in real life? It’s a challenge, and given Shahrukh’s history as both an actor and person, this was a challenge he was certainly ready to take. In an interview, Shahrukh Khan admitted that playing the superstar became a harder task than Gaurav.
“For me, the biggest takeaway from Fan was learning how to stop being Shah Rukh Khan in terms of both the roles. It is very difficult to play a superstar on screen. Trust me; it was more difficult for me to play a superstar than a fan. I had to unlearn being Shah Rukh Khan and the credit for that goes to Maneesh.”
Writing from an actor’s perspective, a performer is always putting him or herself in the character. So it’s no surprise when Shahrukh admitted to becoming a little schizophrenic when filming this movie. It’d be fascinating to jump inside Shahrukh’s mind while he was preparing for his roles. Which memories did he channel for that scene? How much of himself did he let go? Although this film had mixed reviews, a lot did agree on the outstanding performance by the King himself. It was impressive and something a lot of actors would go crazy by reenacting. SRK managed to pull off the character of a 25-year-old, soul-searching Delhi boy who charmed the audience with his creepy lovable nature, while also playing a vulnerable and proud superstar.
In developing a younger look, Shahrukh tweeted a picture of the process it took to make him look 25 years younger — and that’s a lot of prosthetics, makeup, and time sitting. The makeup would make him sweat, was uncomfortable, yet he continued to persevere. The fact that the Benjamin Button makeup artist who worked on Shahrukh’s face (same one used on Brad Pitt’s character) said he’s never pulled off something so intricate says a lot about the risks and challenges Shahrukh always surrounds himself with.
I wondered after watching this film how many crazy fan stories the celebrities must have. Let alone, India moviegoers worship their favorite stars. There are shrines set up and rituals that occur before a movie’s release. That’s how passionate us Indians are about our cinema. It’s larger-than-life. It’s magical, and we see our extended selves when watching our hero and heroine. Just like Gaurav did with Aryan Khanna. In interviews, Shahrukh never had a fan as extreme as Gaurav, but he did mention one incident. Where a man broke into Shahrukh’s bungalow and bathed in the pool. He didn’t dare to bother Shahrukh, even though the guards insisted he could meet him. He just wanted to bathe in the same waters. Unfortunately, Shahrukh has never swum in his pool. The point is, it’s an interesting commentary on the extremes people would do for others. It’s not just celebrities. It could be for a significant other or a family member. When does the line cross too far when you end up hurting others and yourself for your loved one? Is that love, or something else? Do we have to label it?
Overall, Shahrukh Khan is living up to his goals of always trailblazing. No matter how he’s aging, he takes risks for himself, for his family, and most importantly, for his fans. In fact, the delay of the movie Fan was due to Shahrukh Khan’s knees. Speaking as a true fan, I’ll never not like SRK’s performance. Because not only do I respect him as an actor, but I respect him as a person. Someone who really did become a star before a fan — as he says. Growing up in the industry with no parents, raising a healthy family, on the outside at least, and earning a title such as the King of Bollywood, takes hard work. It takes guts. It takes using every of your body and soul. And that’s why I’ve resonated with the superstar all these years. Why I dreamt of one-day finding my Raj. Why I’d cry and smile every time the lover boy would romance on screen. But for Fan, I saw myself in Gaurav. Not romancing with him. But in a dreamy, admiration state where we like to live larger than ourselves and aspire to be somebody, to be with somebody. Everyone can relate to a passionate, sacrificial, complex character.
We are all Gaurav. We are all fans.
If all Aryan had to do was say SORRY to G so he wouldn’t take his own life, though, I wish Bieber made a surprise entrance…