Wednesday, April 27, 2016

19. Fan

In short, Fan did not live up to the pre-release hype (at least for me). Shah Rukh Khan (who had cleverly lowered expectations with Dilwale and Happy New Year) and Maneesh Sharma (who has some nice films to his credit in the recent past) were supposed to work magic among masses and classes. In the end, it turned out to be Darr meets Don meets West Delhi.
Sigh. What a waste.
It is very unfair to judge a film on what you want to see rather than what has been made but I couldn't help wondering a superstar's relationship with an obsessed fan could have been so much better than a jazzy chase film.

Over the last few days, I have been discussing - with friends - various scenes of another superstar film, the original superstar film - Nayak. There are many similarities between Nayak and Fan. Both films have the star involved in a nightclub brawl, being insecure after a lacklustre film at the box office, grappling nosy journalists and eventually, retreating into his cocoon after a brush with reality.
The star's ascendance is nicely brought out in both films. In Nayak, the star himself recounts it through a series of flashbacks (during the course of an interview he unwittingly does). In Fan, the fan follows the exact route his hero took while going from Delhi to Bombay (WT on Rajdhani, Room 205 in Hotel Delite).
Uttam Kumar's casual disdain while handling cynical journalists and charming suaveness while handling fans formed a very interesting balance. On the other hand, SRK is strangely uni-dimensional in handling his fans. For someone who thinks nothing of punching an upstart of a colleague, he seems rather unrealistically law-abiding when it comes to an obsessive fan's unlawful activities.
Both films show how the demi-gods of tinseltown are strangely beholden to different kinds of moneybags. SRK is deferential, almost servile to an Indian billionaire who has hired him to dance at his daughter's wedding. While Uttam Kumar is respectful towards a Marwari producer though he doesn't kowtow to him (despite going through a shaky period in his career).

Despite the many similarities, Nayak and Fan remain light years apart. One is a classic exploration of a star's mind while the other is just a jazzy chase film.

[Frivolous Footnote: Autograph (2010) was another delicious exploration of a star and the people around him, made as a tribute to Nayak. The composer of Autograph - Anupam Roy - has written the lyrics and performed the Bengali version of the Jabra Fan song.]

After writing this, I read two brilliant reviews.
One by Greatbong, on how he was a SRK fan once and may consider becoming one once again.
The other by Beth, on how Fan is actually - well - Nayak exploded.

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