SRK has always been the showman, the badshah of Bollywood, the guy who can make a million hearts flutter with just an outstretching of his arms. Fan plays an unabashed tribute to the superstar Shah Rukh Khan through his character, Aryan Khanna, with a perfectly chosen montage of his interviews and movies, and the "birthday appearances" at Mannat, his Bandra residence that's literally a Mecca for his frenzied fans. You also see shades of the superstar minus his stardom - a family man who dotes on his children, a self-made hardworking man who has his own fears and fallacies, a peek into what very well could be SRK's life inside the high walls of Mannat.
But Fan also presents, probably for the first time in his career, an actor par excellence, devoid of all the mannerisms that he can always bank on to get legions of his drooling fans going. Just a little help from the make up department (a slighter built, a broader jaw, smaller nose, straight eyebrows, bucky mouth), and you have Gaurav, who worships Aryan (so many of us will relate to that!) and is convinced he was made from the same "mitti", and dreams of meeting his idol one day.
After winning the moolah in the mohalla's talent competition (a wonderfully executed sequence), Gaurav sets out with his trophy and a box of halwa, WT (without ticket) to Mumbai, to wish Aryan on his upcoming birthday. But fan life is not easy - I know, I spent 8 hours in the blazing sun waiting to get an audience with the Badshah during the shooting of Chennai Express at a remote railway station in South Goa! Kicked away from the gates, his halwa crushed under the feet of the beserk crowds, Gaurav doesn't lose hope. While his devilish plan succeeds in getting Gaurav an audience with Aryan, the superstar summarily rejects his fanatical worship and methods. "You are not my fan", he admonishes Gaurav in a Mumbai lockup.
Hell hath no fury like a lover scorned, it's said. Gaurav now makes it his life's credo - to get the superstar down to his knees, and goes after Aryan with a vengeance, almost destroying his career, his image and his family. All he wants is for Aryan to say sorry.
Gaurav hai toh Aryan hai. Gaurav nahi, toh Aryan nahi.
SRK fans will not be able to take their eyes off the screen - because there is literally no frame without the badshah in it. Fans with heart ailments are advised caution during the Mannat scenes. Adrenalin pumping chase and fight sequences on blazing rooftops in Europe, crumbling dilapidated Mumbai gullies and dusty terraces of Delhi are executed with finesse. There are no frivolous songs (there was always the possibility of inserting a song sequence in Aryan's superstar life or an angle on Gaurav's local love interest), although SRK gets to do his signature sprint more than once. There are no cheesy romantic dialogues, no twisted eyesbrows, no tears in the superstar's eyes. There is just cold determination in Gaurav. A manic resolve, a deadly obsession that manifests in cold, calculated moves that doesnt fail to bring a chill to the bone, a slight tingling in the spine. There is no hamming, no long winded dialogues. Just a subtle change of expression from hope to anger, from expectations to resolve, from anger to determination.
SRK, in and as Fan, is simply an actor you've never seen before.
Shriya Pilgaonkar (as Gaurav's love interest "Miss BPO" Neha) is a find! She is smart, good looking, and super confident in front of the camera, her disarming smile a real asset. A small role that is getting lots of appreciation, and very deservedly so.
Fan isn't a romantic movie. Fan is a taut thriller, with a simple but powerful theme that keeps you hooked from the beginning to the end. A complete departure from the Happy New Year genre, Fan will take you to the era when the Baazikar created just the right amount of Darr! This one is for keeps.