Sunday, April 17, 2016

FAN Movie Review

Spoilers, spoilers everywhere...

Fan is a story of, well, a certain fan, Gaurav Chandna, of a certain Hindi film superstar, Aryan Khanna. You knew this basic plot point from the film’s trailer itself, and, thankfully, the film establishes this point in its opening sequence itself in no time. What’s unusual in this story is that the fan even looks similar to his idol superstar. Both the roles are played by superstar Shah Rukh Khan himself, and given his stardom, this story is, in a way, coming out of his superstar character and his insane fan following itself.

In this story of a fan, you would obviously try to relate yourself with the character of Gaurav, for it is not hard for a middle-class consumer audience in this country to be a “fan” of any film or cricket superstar or even a politician for that matter. It’s a two-way game. Superstars make fans; fans make superstars. The film finds its philosophy in this paradox, and like a double-edged sword, this very idea also forms the conflict of the film. 

It now makes sense, in a metaphysical fashion, that both the fan and his idol here are made to look same, and their common face is not used as a convenient plot device until their ugly confrontation scene in a prison cell. It is a brilliantly staged scene, very reflective in nature too – not only for the characters but also for the audience. Both the faces of Shahrukh are in a face-off. They talk about their face which is the image the world knows Aryan by. Gaurav says that he didn’t let the police even touch his face while beating, and thus he protected Aryan.

While they question each other as their blurring reflections are created in the mirror in the backdrop, you are put to reflect upon yourself, your rooting too, because we are not only invested in Gaurav’s story so far but also made to find ourselves in him (We even see him properly for the first time through a glass). The scene is purely cinematic. But the question is: Do you still, morally, relate with the fan? Or he has been wronged by the superstar by not giving him the time, which you think he deserved, and instead putting him behind bars using his powers?

If you answered yes to both the above questions, the film has failed, but the power of cinema as a reflection still triumphs. The film does not want you to sympathise with Gaurav. It wants him to be ridiculed. It wants him to be laughed at. Which is why he even cries funnily.

After the mirror reflection scene that builds up to the interval, even the script is turned into its mirror image (which is structurally similar to Maneesh Sharma’s last Shuddh Desi Romance too). It is the superstar who is chasing his fan now (and this chase is actualized neatly into lengthy and delicious chase sequences that swept the floor under my feet). And the film wants to shift your morality towards Aryan Khanna whom you would have so far associated with the real-life image of Shah Rukh Khan himself and thought how could we even possibly relate with someone who’s living the life of a king?

But you do empathize with him when a diplomat quips about his attitude, when a lady police officer asks for a personal selfie with him after she has photographed him for jail records, when he witnesses an empty auditorium for possibly one his biggest shows in his favorite city, when a journalist mocks about him being the real star or an imposter, when a big shot Sindhi whines about spending a bomb on him for performing in a wedding and he calmly takes that with a smile (SRK said in an interview that if someone does that to him in real life, he would beat him up).

The superstar is the victim here. You are made to believe in him. When Gaurav becomes vindictive, he attacks what has made Aryan: first, his brand image – his face – for which Madame Tussauds comes as a great setup, then his ideals that give him the credibility to be the most romantic man on screen – his respect for women. And while destroying the man whom he called his hero, Gaurav, unknowingly, is destroying himself. Because what is a fan if s/he is not made up of the very ideals that his/her idol propagated? It is a god-devotee relationship. But this comes to Gaurav little late, almost as an epiphany, when he is dying at the hands of his God with a smile on his face.

Not surprisingly, Gaurav’s attacks work in line of the mass voyeurism, and in his favour. It is the same fascination to know how these star people are in their real-life, in their bedrooms, that makes the masses gullible enough to buy in no time that their favourite hero can also be a molester (Hashtag #molestAR is a top Twitter trend, we see). It is a mass resentment thing. But you know which side are you on, what point-of-view the film wants to hold. Unlike Maneesh Sharma’s previous films about the middle-class and the neo middle-class, this one’s an upper-class, elitist film.

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