I’m not sure what I expected out of Fan when it was first announced: a glimpse into the life of Shah Rukh Khan, the actor, like never before? A look at the pure love fans have for their favourite stars? An exhibit of celebrity culture in this country? But when the trailer first hit, it was clear that Fan would be much more than just that. It made the promise that this film is a different beast entirely. And that it is.
Fan has a bunch of different shades to it: you get to see everything from impressive stardom to pure adulation to obsession to genuinely troubling behaviour. It’s fun in parts, moody in parts, actually creepy in parts. It’s a look at two people in two completely different places in their life, but it doesn’t present any judgment as to which is right and which is wrong. That’s probably the most satisfying part of Fan: these two starkly different – yet similar on some level – characters are laid out for you, and you’re allowed to empathize with whichever you want.
Of course, behind these characters, there’s Shah Rukh Khan. If you’re a fan – pun intended – and have had complaints about his work recently, Fan should put those to rest. Regardless of what you think of the film in its entirety, you’re likely to think that Fan is one of his best works in recent times. You get a genuine peek into his real life – or at least it feels like that! – when he plays Aryan Khanna. He doesn’t shy away from casting a negative light on Aryan sometimes, which is commendable since people are definitely going to associate on-screen Aryan with the real life SRK. And then there’s Gaurav, where you see him in an entirely different light. The best part is that even though SRK is Gaurav, Gaurav doesn’t feel like SRK – until he has to, that is. It genuinely feels like two different people, and so much of that credit goes to Shah Rukh Khan for his performance in the film. While he’s supported by many other acts in this film, Fan definitely belongs to him alone.
But there are some snags. A lot of instances are left unexplained, making them feel unbelievable. The film – especially the second half – doesn’t feel crisp enough, making even the chase sequences feel uncomfortably lengthy. The ending is left on a questionable note, which may not work for everyone.
These aren’t deal breakers necessarily, but they do dilute the impact of the film, which brings us to the big problem: it’s a let down for the actor who seems willing to do anything for the film. Shah Rukh Khan came to play his parts with full gusto, but bad writing in parts and some illogical scenes just don’t do justice to his performance.
So while Fan is watchable by any standards, the snags take away from it. And this is the kind of film that has some (probably unfair) pressure on itself because there’s just something amazing about the idea of Shah Rukh Khan acting in a film where he is playing both himself and a fan of himself. It’s a movie we can’t really expect to come across again in Bollywood, and this is why it needed to be absolutely incredible – which it wasn’t. It’s good… but ‘good’ almost feels like it’s just not good enough.
Rating: 3 stars.