A young obsessive fan meets his lookalike idol. His idol rejects him. Dejected, the fan decides to make the superstar's life a living hell.
That is the basic storyline of the 2016 film FAN which tells the tale of a demoralized, out-of-control devotee.
What makes the Shah Rukh Khan thriller FAN so good is the dual role that SRK plays. While he has played dual roles many times before, this time he plays a youthful avid fan as well as the seasoned superstar object of the fan's devotion. It is fascinating to watch.
Unfortunately, this dual role is also a bit of a liability for FAN.
You find yourself wondering which elements of the storyline are true for the real Shah Rukh Khan. The sea of fans who gather every year outside SRK's home in Mumbai to get a glimpse of the superstar is a reality. It was filmed at Mannat on SRK's 50th birthday. His roots as a "Delhi-boy" are well-known. The use of film footage, interviews and award ceremonies are all part of SRK's real rise in celebrity status. SRK's jet-setting and rehearsals for live performances around the world are authentic. Fans and media commonly turn minor tiffs between superstars into major stories and reasons for taking sides and defending their hero.
Because the film blurs the line between fact and fiction, FAN is both extraordinary and cautionary: a tale of the fragile relationship between fan and superstar.
SRK easily projects a youthful demeanor as 20-something Gaurav Chandna, the fan. While VFX and prosthetics certainly facilitated changes in SRK's appearance - the size of his nose, softer dimples, rounder face, a slimmed down six-pack - his performance brings a sense of innocence to the character of Gaurav. SRK transforms into Gaurav who transforms into a younger version of Aryan Khanna, winning local awards by mimicking the superstar.
Gaurav's life is based on his perceived connection to his hero. He surrounds himself with Aryan Khanna memorabilia. Gaurav's every act is an act of devotion. His words are spoken and actions taken with youthful abandon. When Gaurav finally meets superstar Aryan Khanna (SRK playing ... himself?), he is overwhelmed but extremely confident that the superstar will recognize the extraordinary lengths that his "biggest fan" has taken for him.
But Gaurav's devotion has an untamed dark side which is exposed and rejected by Aryan Khanna. One of the more memorable scenes is of Gaurav alone in a jail cell after meeting the superstar. He is inconsolable, convulsing with uncontrollable soul-stirring sobs, his life's meaning destroyed.
SRK's Aryan Khanna is direct and decisive while reminding us that the heroes we place on pedestals are just as flawed and flabbergasted as we are when fate throws a monkeywrench into their lives. Even more so when it is a "fan".
The two characters share a symbiotic relationship of sorts. While the superstar cannot exist without the fan, the fan cannot separate himself from his hero.
The film has a number of excellent action sequences and the overall performances are honest (except for the British police officer who was nastier than necessary). The interesting and frequent use of mirrors in a number of scenes reinforces the concept of reflection. Both Gaurav and Aryan Khanna are forced to reflect on who they really are and who they need to become. The film also forces fans in the audience to reflect on how they celebrate, support, and treat their superstars. The emotionally-powerful final scene leaves you wondering just how many "Gauravs" are really out there.
The following playlist features teasers, trailers, music and other videos related to the film FAN.
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