Not every star has the privilege of playing himself on the silver screen in a leading role. Dharmendra in Guddi, Uttam Kumar in Satyajit Ray’s Nayak, Akshay Kumar in The Shaukeens, Salman Khan in Ajab Prem Ki Gazab Kahaani, Katrina Kaif in Bombay Talkies, Amitabh Bachchan in Bombay Talkies and Ki & Ka, and Shahrukh Khan in Billu.
Most of these roles, except for Satyajit Ray’s Nayak, were essentially cameos, rather than full-fledged role. This retained the aura of the star and made one believe in what transpired on screen. Fan, despite all its hype and hoopla, fails to make the audience invest in its superstar’s character. You trying finding solace in the star-struck fan’s character, only find yourself stifling a giggle or two even in emotional scenes, especially in his interaction with the superstar’s wife.
The character of Gaurav is so lazily written that you never root for his character (Admit it, you even rooted for SRK’s ‘negative’ characters in Darr, Baazigar and Anjaam). There’s nothing that compels you to stay invested in this film, neither the star, nor the fan.
One squirms in disbelief that it’s the same Manish Sharma who directed Band Baja aur Baarat. The next thing one can turn to is the ‘meticulous’ art direction that takes you to the middleclass Dilli household, melaas, or the exotic foreign locales. But then the DVD of Dilli 6 just might do the trick. You hope for some good music or song montage to spice things up. Hard luck.
The yawn-inducing screenplay pays no heed to an iota of logic. For instance, why would a superstar not approach the cops when someone has trespassed in his home and damaged his property? Why is the superstar never mobbed by his ‘fans’ while loitering around and chasing his lookalike fan? Nobody realizes that the fan looks like the superstar until the director wants them to.
The key incident that becomes the film’s pivot and a turning point for the fan’s character is tackily written, especially the fan’s first interaction with the superstar. You anticipate dialogues that underline the character’s passion for the superstar but the lines stick out as sore thumb. The hopes soar, when the film treads the ‘King of comedy’ territory, but it traverses the ‘Dhoom’ track instead. Kaboom!
By the time the film reaches its climax (finally), you realise that this Fan is beyond repair. The overdose of stunts are literally stunts here to keep the script loopholes at bay. The last scene desperately tries to tug at your heartstrings, but you end up worrying about your purse-strings.
The earnest performance of Shahrukh Khan is perhaps the only reason that glues you to the auditorium seat (Or was it the cheese popcorn?) But then, you can always rely on DVDs of Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, Swades, Chakh De! India, Billu or even wait for the superstar’s next film, Rais.
It makes much more sense to revisit or discover gems like ‘Il Postino’ that beautifully captures the relationship between a fan and a poet, Satyajit Ray’s Nayak that explores the dark side of a superstar, or the Robert De Niro starrers ‘King of comedy’ and ‘The Fan’ by Tony Scott?
Having said so, one must admit that Shahrukh Khan’s interpretation of Gaurav’s character is spot-on, but it’s the script that fails him. One can’t help sighing: Dekhne gaye thhe fan, lekin yeh to Jackie Chan ho gaya. Mein tera unfan ho gaya!