The stark striking and severe contrast between the two characters ,Supertar Aryan Khanna and Fan Gaurav Chanana is so pitch-perfect it’s like two different actors playing the two roles. Shah Rukh actually changes his voice completely as the Star and the Fan.
And when the Fan mimics the Star it’s the imitative voice –and dance movements –of a fan copying the original. Fanis not the first film where Shah Rukh Khan has achieved a total character transformation. Earlier in his friend Karan Johar’s My Name Is Khan Shah Rukh had achieved a complete makeover.
Look closely at the Fan, specially at his dentures. Doesn’t Gaurav Chanana remind you of Kangana Ranaut’s Datto in Tanu Weds Manu Returns?The same grin, the same small-town demeanour ,attitude, aspirations, cocky self-confidence to hide the insecurities …Except that I am yet to figure out why Kangana had a double role in Tanu Weds Manu Returns. Here in Fan the entire plot hinges on the fan’s passing resemblance to his idol. The prosthetics make sure that the two Shah Rukhs look different enough to pass off as two different individuals with a nodding resemblance to one another, the kind we play up in middle class families to feel close to screen deities.
Extraordinary writing by Habib Faisal. To cast Shah Rukh Khan as his own fan is a master-stroke. The encounters between Star and Fan are goosebumpy…Specially the first time when Gaurav , the Fan, sees Aryan the Superstar waving from his home . It’s a magical moment of reckoning peeling off that aura that surrounds a star to show that behind the hysterical adulation there is a fan-boy who makes it happen. Gaurav isn’t wrong when he says, ‘Gaurav hai to Aryan Khanna Hai.’ Gaurav emblematizes all of fandom. All those fans who have screamed, raved and written their favourite stars’ names in blood are screaming there with Gaurav.
As Aryan Khanna, Shah Rukh Khan dares to be arrogant and ridiculous. He could have easily been portrayed as an invincible icon. Instead he is vain , opinionated, and quite aura-struck himself…if we go at the way he stares at himself in the mirror. It’s obvious that like Kareena Kapoor in Jab We Met, Aryan Khanna in Fan is his own biggest fan.And he is willing to sell himself for a price. Remember Shah Rukh’s infamous words ‘I am a bhand (street dancer). I can dance at weddings or anywhere else for a price.’ The words return to haunt his on-screen superstar avtar in Fan when Aryan Khanna goes to a Indian millionaire’s home in Croatia and is snubbed and humiliated. Aryan takes it all, the way Shah Rukh Khan never would. Make no mistake. Aryan Khanna is not Shah Rukh Khan.
The two key cat-and-mouse chase sequences between the Star Aryan and the Fan Gaurav set in front side of a dilapidated guest house in Delhi(where everything threatens to fall apart) and on the narrow seaside streets of Dubrovnik(where , by now,everything HAS fallen apart) have to be seen to be experienced. Heart-in-the-mouth is a concept invented for these occasions.
Sorry bol de na, pleads the Fan. The Star refuses. That’s the cruz of the conflict in Fan. By the time the two come face-to-face for a bloodied climax the Fan’s misplaced adoration and the Star’s invalidation of the Fan’s adulation begin to examine the wider question of the severe need for real-life heroes in our country. Gaurav, the Fan , should have picked a better role-model. But where is the Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Teresa to look up to?Hats off to Shah Rukh Khan for portraying Aryan the Superstar as flawed and unworthy of being emulated.
Tum nahin samjhega chhod de, the Fan says to the Star at the end.Luckily the film’s writers(Habib Faisal,Sharat Kataria) and the director (Maneesh Sharma) do not share Aryan’s shallow understanding of a fan’s yearnings. The film has created a world that challenges the cult of hero worship. Girls died for Rajesh Khanna.Guys have been known to ruin their lives for Shah Rukh Khan. Maneesh Sharma’s Fan is the story of this ruinous relationship between a flawed icon and disillusioned fan. This film is special because….well, Shah Rukh makes the Star and the Fan look really special.Without once breaking into a song!!