Looking at the extremely low profile promotion of a reputed YRF-SRK film was nothing less than a mysterious act for many before the release of FAN. And I personally could only think of following three reasons why the film was being released with such an unexpected promotional strategy in a holiday weekend.
1. Due to the negative social networking campaigns being run against the star for the infamous reasons.
2. May be the film was so strong in its content & execution that it didn’t need any promotion at all.
3. May be it didn’t turn out to be as entertaining as expected and they wished to keep the expectation as low as possible playing it safe.
Honestly I really wished the second point to be the positive reason behind the film’s quieter release, but unfortunately it turned out to be the third that probably forced the team to opt for the silent strategy.
However the good news is that this time we don’t have a complete downer as the icon’s last few attempts like HAPPY NEW YEAR and DILWALE. Thankfully in FAN we have a new Shah Rukh Khan, who is finally willing to move out of his set acting patterns and successfully plays a character of 20+ with a completely different body language and a slightly dissimilar face with a commendable ease. And mind you, it’s much difficult to play a character half your age than an old person adding some grey shades in your hair and few wrinkles to the face. So in performance terms, FAN gives us a fresh, charming Shah Rukh, we last met watching his films such as CHAKK DE INDIA, SWADES, OM SHANTI OM or MY NAME IS KHAN. And since the first half of FAN entirely talks about this new lovable SRK alone, so it can easily be rated as a clear winner that only dips slightly towards the intermission making a rock solid impression on the viewers.
In other words, beginning from their favourite city Delhi and its enjoyable feel, both director Maneesh Sharma and Shah Rukh Khan strongly deliver the novelty in their first half and that too without getting any support from the otherwise essential music or dance in a YRF-SRK film.
But unfortunately its once again the second half that completely fails to match with the excellence shown in the first and falls simply flat with nothing but the routine, predictable, seen before obsession of a stalker, reminding you of SRK’s own films namely DARR and ANJAAM without offering any entertaining moments till the climax. Therefore if someone gives me his opinion that with FAN, Yash Raj Films have actually tried to re-make their own DARR with the look-alike twist inserted, then I would not be able to deny thinking about the film’s second half.
Putting it differently, here we have a film where its lead hero tries real hard coming up with a career best performance (of a double role) playing himself and a difficult character of half his age so impressively with all distinctive body movements and a highly believable makeover of a young fan. But its his writers and director who truly let him down, conceiving a pretty awful second half ruining his entire hard work put in for last many months. In fact even the cinematography and background score decently supports the film in its 142 minutes of duration. But who is interested in the technical brilliance when nothing engrossing is happening on screen in a film’s final 70 minutes.
Further, (before moving on to the details of its inspired status), would like to mention some major faults in the vision of its writer-director that actually harm the film quite brutally.
A. FAN has such a pathetic portrayal of POLICE in both India and abroad that you begin thinking that how they could present them in such a careless manner like a typical B grade film.
B. In one sequence SRK as the STAR reveals to his fan Gaurav that, ‘Police has brought you here in the Police Station on MY ORDER’. Now would like to ask the writers that how can one put it as ‘on MY ORDER’? How the Police was supposed to take orders from the Bollywood Star? In fact this was one thing that should have been pointed out by the censors changing the word from ‘My Order’ to ‘My Complaint’. But strangely neither the writers considered it objectionable, nor the censors did, and the dialogue goes on disgracing the POLICE as well as the system functioning on the ORDERS of a Hindi film icon.
C. Post KI & KA, this is yet again a Bollywood film deliberately portraying Delhi as a city of goons and sex maniacs, who keep watching blue films in the cyber cafes. Here, I personally would have appreciated if the director had gone for an image-makeover of the city instead of shattering it further. A city, that has contributed so much in his films becoming their integral part.
D. If you keep aside the brilliant portrayal of SRK as both Gaurav and Aryan, then the characters remain hugely flawed right till the end written carelessly. In specific words, not even once do you feel sympathy for either Gaurav or Aryan in the film’s second half due to this very reason.
E. Logic goes for a toss in the film’s final hour like anything. Gaurav keeps flying to various foreign cities without any legal hassles at all and even gets his crew I-card made with a false make-up as the writers were not even interested to give you the required details.
F. In the entire film, its confusing to judge that who actually can spot the difference between Gaurav and Aryan, and who cannot. For instance, where the British Police & the visitors of Madame Tussauds fail to spot the imposter, our Indian Police can readily do so. Moreover it was really bizarre to see that in the beginning of the film the local ‘Mela audience’ who clearly know about Gaurav and his physical appearance, are not able to recoganize the real Aryan standing on stage without any added make-up in the climax (and they go on assuming him to be Gaurav quite weirdly).
G. A complete film actually needs a great support from its additional cast. But in FAN you really miss the supporting actors given some decent space as required. Moreover I fail to understand that is Yogendra Tiku the only person left in the entire industry to play the father of our heroes and heroines. Has Mukesh Chhabra (the ‘numero uno’ casting director) gone for a long holiday?
H. When a single JABRA FAN song was so well promoted in different languages sung by all known regional singers in their own styles, then why it was not included in the film or at least in its end-credits becomes a very valid point to raise.
I. A young boy dies in the end in an unintentional accident; but the film doesn’t care to talk about the impact of his sudden death on the family and how they react to the incident knowing that it was a result of his fight with the Star on the roof top. Also the Star has no explanations to give to the Police for that deadly accident and the film ends right there like the typical 80s film (the most forgettable era of Hindi Cinema) where no such questions were supposed to be asked by the viewers.
J. Lastly the most important point that kept annoying me throughout the film was that ideally a concept like FAN should present its superstar in an extreme positive light as a hero. But why Manish didn’t present the actual persona of his STAR in a highly optimistic manner building an image? Why he chose to portray the real life personality of Aryan as someone highly arrogant, uncaring and so rude, who cannot even say a Sorry? Why he didn’t portray him as a thoughtful, compassionate and positive person as Dharmendra was shown in the exclusive 8 minute sequence (with a similar look-alike fan theme) in film SOORMA BHOPALI (1988).
Coming to the inspirational sources,
if you would like to read about all the foreign and Hindi films based on the similar STAR-FAN theme, then please check the following link:
And here are the specific references that are quite close to the actual story progression in FAN.
1. The sequence of Gaurav waiting outside Aryan’s house with the large crowd, straight away reminds you of Anurag Kashyap's section in BOMBAY TALKIES featuring Amitabh Bachchan and his Sunday fan-darshan outside his Juhu bungalow.
2. Where the basic plot reminds you of several films related with fans or obsessed lovers seen in the past (including the double roles focusing on switching identities), few specific insertions in the film have some direct resemblances with Robert De Niro’s THE FAN (1996).
As shown in FAN, in the English film too, Robert De Niro is a mad follower of a Baseball star player and when he comes to know that his icon is not getting his famous form back missing his lucky jersey number 11 worn by another player, then he goes and simply kills the rival player and then expects his icon to express thanks to him for the timely help provided.
So both attacking the rival/competitor and expecting a Thanks (here Sorry) are right there in THE FAN superbly enacted by Robert De Niro.
3. Films based on such complex themes can ideally end on an identical note with the terrifying fan dying, settling everything for once and all. So the same finale of FAN was earlier seen in DARR and ANJAAM. Plus it is also there in the Robert De Niro film too where the Police does the ‘honours’ of shooting the fan.
Summing up, Maneesh Sharma’s FAN is certainly not a great film. But it still has one big worth praising merit like the bright silver lining in the dark clouds. And it’s the splendid, admirable performance of Shah Rukh Khan playing Gaurav, looking so amazingly young in his physical appearance and superbly enacted mannerisms creating a new identity. As a song less venture without focusing on any female character, it is a bold film too breaking the set romantic format of a typical SRK film that could have been a lot better with an extra care taken of its second half.
In short, if you are a FAN then you are sure going to cherish watching your beloved star back in form after a long time. And in case you are not, then the man will force you to do so praising his flawless act of GAURAV as a true appreciator. However I seriously wish the team had somehow worked upon the second half, turning this mediocre film into a classic for the sake of Hindi cinema.
Rating : 2 + 1 / 5 (with the additional 1 just for SRK’s astonishing transformation as the young Gaurav)