Director: Maneesh Sharma
Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Shriya Pilgaonkar, Waluscha de Sousa
Three and a half stars
Given Shah Rukh Khan's recent poor choice of film roles, most admirers of the superstar had somewhat mixed feelings ahead of the release of his latest, Fan.
It offered the perfect chance for Khan to shine in the role of Aryan Khanna, a 48-year-old superstar actor not dissimilar to himself (Khan is 50), who rose from humble beginnings in Delhi to take Bollywood and the country by storm. In addition, thanks to some clever make up and prosthetics, he plays 25-year-old Gaurav Chandna – essentially portraying his own biggest fan.
But excitement over this intriguing set-up was tinged with a concern that Fan would end up being little more than a self-congratulatory show reel to massage Khan's ego. After all, how many actors of Khan's stature have it in them to allow their stardom to be deconstructed for an audience?
This, for me, was Fan's biggest success: the ability to look at Khan and see more than a man who makes the ladies swoon by throwing open his arms over and over again.
Gaurav is Aryan’s biggest fan and also looks a lot like his idol. He heads to Mumbai in the hopes of meeting the superstar on his birthday, convinced that he is entitled to five minutes of Aryan’s time. When he doesn’t get a personal audience, Gaurav snaps and vows to make his hero apologise.
Taking advantage of their resemblance, he impersonates Aryan and ruins his reputation. A few unnecessarily long chase sequences later, Aryan catches up with Gaurav in an attempt to get his life and good name back.
It’s a decent story – the fan chases the star in the first half and the star chases the fan in the second half of the film.
Khan, as the disturbed Gaurav, will remind you of his brilliance that lit up the screen in his Darr and Baazigar days.
But it his performance as a thinly veiled version of himself, in the form of the quicksilver Aryan Khanna, that is the treat every Shah Rukh Khan fan has been waiting for, for years.
You get to see his superstar ego, but also the family man with responsibilities. You see his bravado, but also him swallowing humble pie, while trying to appease an industrialist who kicks him out of a wedding he was hired to dance at.
But most of all you see Khan/Khanna, grappling with his stardom and getting irritated because so much of his life is no longer his own. He basks in his fans’ adulation – but brutally informs his biggest fan, Gaurav, that he owes him nothing.
There is a brilliant early scene in which Gaurav tells Aryan that he is nobody without his fans. You see the nobody, Gaurav, looking down at the very superstar, Khanna. In the next moment, the positions have switched again and Aryan is back on top and in control.
Just for these rare moments inspired by Shah Rukh Khan's real life, you should go and watch Fan.