By AYESHA BABAR
Fan has a very basic premise – there’s Gaurav, a middle-class boy from Inder Nagar in Delhi who is obsessed with a Bollywood superstar called Aryan Khanna. The highlight of Gaurav’s year is winning a ‘Super Sitara’ talent competition in his colony (or clony as he calls it) – his special act being imitating his idol to get much love and applause from the society residents.
Gaurav feels that he has a special connection with Aryan Khanna. Firstly because of the uncanny resemblance that he shares with Aryan Khanna and also because Aryan himself grew up in Rajinder Nagar, another locality in Delhi, not much different from his own. Gaurav’s bedroom is a shrine to the star who he worships. For Aryan’s birthday, Gaurav decided to finally go to Mumbai to give a personal gift Aryan.
The scenes that follow change the mood of the film, taking it a few notches darker – as the fan in Gaurav pits himself against his idol. There is major drama, action sequences but surprisingly, for a Shah Rukh Khan film no songs!
As you see Gaurav’s obsession take on unhealthier shades, you can see an underlying creepy viciousness while at the same time your heart goes out to him when he somewhat naively carries on with his actions without much thought to the consequences. It is in these parts that we see the Shah Rukh of Darr and Baazigar and oh, how good it feels to witness that again on the big screen.
Even when the screenplay and story become a tad tedious in the second half, it is Shah Rukh Khan’s powerhouse performance that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The challenge is two-folded: to play the 25 year old fan so that he comes across as menacing yet vulnerable and to play a superstar, essentially himself. Shah Rukh smoothly slips from one into the other giving keeping his portrayal of both highly nuanced and making it look much easier than it was.
Shah Rukh is in every frame of the film and completely owns his space. You cannot help but feel emotionally invested in the journey which makes the film stay with you long after you’ve finished watching. Add to this the excellent editing and the crisp storytelling and you can see the genius of the director, Maneesh Sharma!
After acting in films that did no favours for his acting skills for the better part of the decade, Shah Rukh finally seems to have found a good balance when picking scripts. This one is definitely one of his career best performances.
Fan is triumphantly different to any other Bollywood film I’ve seen recently – go watch it to see a vintage classic! We give it 4 out of 5 stars.