A fan’s journey from admiration to dark obsession is the theme of Shah Rukh Khan’s new film – and SRK’s real-life fans cannot wait to see how he manages to portray both a 50-year-old movie star and a 25-year-old megafan.
The film, Fan, which tells the story of Gaurav, a Bollywood-obsessed man who goes from hero worshipper to sociopath, was directed by Maneesh Sharma and produced by Aditya Chopra for Yash Raj Films.
The trailer has racked up more than 16 million views on YouTube and promises a lot of action sequences set in Dubrovnik (Croatia), London, Oxford, Mumbai and New Delhi.
Here are four things about the film that break the usual Bollywood mould.
25 years younger
In the trailer, Khan is instantly recognisable, yet oddly different – and certainly much younger. Bollywood has never gone in much for prosthetic make-up effects but in this film they have been used extensively to create a more youthful-looking Khan.
The effect took six hours to create every day and, on occasion, wore Khan out because the prosthetics made him sweat. His cheeks have been plumped out, his skin looks smoother, the wrinkles around the eyes are gone and, he wears contact lenses and has a new hairstyle – the result is striking.
Khan said motion capture was also used, which involved scanning his face in a studio to capture all his facial expressions for digital effects. He believes this is a first for Indian cinema.
"After Fan, everybody will look up to Hindi films in terms of what we can do with visual effects and make-up," he recently told TV channel NDTV.
The canny promotions
Khan has been as savvy as ever in thinking of original ways to promote Fan. The logo is interesting – a collage of pictures supplied by Khan's real-life fans. He has been aggressively promoting the movie on television – on the talent show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa and on Comedy Nights Bachao, a programme that pokes gentle fun at celebrities.
But the biggest coup? Acquiring permission from Madame Tussauds to move his waxworks model in London from the museum to the London Eye for a scene and to clothe the model in costumes that he wears as Gaurav. Yash Raj Films also released a five-part series that examines the idea of what it means to be a fan.
The first episode features fans of film and sports stars, while the others are devoted to portraying Khan’s own fans in India in all their obsessive glory.
The female stars ... er, who?
The female stars are relatively unknown. They include Goan model Waluscha De Sousa, who is making her Bollywood debut. De Sousa, who plays Khan’s wife, is not yet famous in India, although she has appeared in a few ads with SRK. She has three children from her marriage to actor and model Marc Robinson (they separated in 2013). Also making her debut in Hindi films is Shriya Pilgaonkar, a theatre actress and daughter of actor Sachin Pilgaonkar. Both women have blink-and-you’ll-miss-them roles, mostly because SRK looms larger than ever over this production.
Sing it nine ways
The theme song, Jabra Fan, is an ode to Gaurav's obsession, albeit in a humorous, light-hearted way.
“He’s not just a star, he’s my world,” he croons. The song has close to 20 million hits on YouTube and, capitalising on this, the soundtrack features nine versions of the track in a variety of languages: Hindi, Punjabi, Bhojpuri, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Arabic, sung by Moroccan pop star Abd El Fattah Grini. The music is by Vishal and Shekhar, the Hindi lyrics by Varun Grover.
Fan is in cinemas now