Starring: Shahrukh Khan.
Dir by Maneesh Sharma. Produced by Aditya Chopra.
The idea of Maneesh Sharma’s Fan—about a crazy, stalking fan—is not novel; there was Stephen King’s novel Misery (also made into a movie in 1990) and Tony Scott’s 1996 film The Fan, both about the destructive power of fandom. What makes this film unusual is that Shahrukh Khan plays his own fan, and pays tribute to his own great stardom.
There are limits to vanity, however, so Sharma drew the line at calling the superstar in the film Shahrukh Khan, though the parallels between him and the fictional Aryan Khanna are there to see—the crowd frenzy scenes outside the star’s house were shot at SRK’s bungalow, Mannat. The actress playing Khanna’s wife, Waluscha D’Sousa, looks a lot like Gauri Khan. Like in the film, SRK’s home also has a room with all his trophies and film memorabilia. Aryan Khanna’s doppelganger, his ‘jabra’ fan, is 25-year-old Gaurav—the marvels of make-up and computers making SRK look like himself as he was when had started his career. He makes use of the resemblance to win a star lookalike contest—egged on by adoring parents—hopes to meet the star on his birthday and gift him his trophy. He copies the star’s journey to Mumbai, deliberately travelling without ticket and staying in the same room in the same decrepit hotel as Aryan had when he first came to the city.
It’s strange that Gaurav’s resemblance to Aryan is used when it suits the script and ignored when it doesn’t. When he is with a crowd of other screaming fans outside the star’s bungalow, or when he attacks Aryan’s rival and creates a scandal, nobody notices. Gaurav’s scheme to meet his ‘god’ ends badly. Probably used to intrusive admirers, Aryan refuses to acknowledge the intensity of Gaurav’s worshipful love.
Humiliated, Gaurav acquires the resources and cunning to follow the star abroad and mount an insidious attack on his reputation, using that resemblance. During these episodes, everybody simply believes that Gaurav is Aryan, because that’s the only way to make the fan’s plan work—and all he wants is an apology.
As this vengeful Gaurav, Shahrukh channels his own youthful avatar in films like Baazigar and Darr. The scenes are not too convincing, and it is absurd to have SRK chasing SRK in picturesque Dubrovnik and shabby Delhi rooftops, but for the viewer it does add to the thrill. And it gives Shahrukh the chance to play a very different kind of double role. As devious and pathetic Gaurav, he is so brilliant, he overshadows himself as the world-weary star.