I’d rather watch a ceiling fan than Shah Rukh’s Fan!

Published: April 18, 2016
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I am still trying to wrap my head, as to how a common fan can become so adept at dangerous parkour stunts and death-defying intercity chases.

A disclaimer of sorts before I begin this piece; I have never been a huge Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) fan (no pun intended).  Au contraire, even back in the day when everyone and their dog was drooling over his excessively exaggerated psychotic characters in Darr (1993)Baazigar (1993)Anjaam (1994) and Ram Jaane (1995), I found Shah Rukh Khan’s quirkiness more exasperating than endearing. I mean, okay I get it – you pulled off a deranged anti-hero successfully once, but why in God’s name would you don the same eccentric avatar over and over again that is bound to be milked dry in no time?

Fortunately for SRK, these zany characters were counterbalanced by another sort of character that he so nauseatingly loved to repeat, that of a lovable idiot. Long story short, if he wasn’t hamming his way out as a manic  ‘K k k Kiran’ stalker, he most certainly would be found playing an adorable simpleton like Sunder in Chamatkar (1992), Raj in Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (1992) and Sunil in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994).

Shah Rukh Khan.
Photo: Giphy

But back then SRK could still be called an actor, albeit a moderately talented one. A one-trick, or at most, a two-trick pony that didn’t have versatility in his repertoire.

Shah Rukh Khan.
Photo: Giphy

Then SRK struck gold with Dharma Productions and Yash Raj Films by playing an overdose of single-faceted Rajs and Rahuls in some of the most Bollywoodish rom-coms like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) and Mohabbatein (2000)Dil To Pagal Hai (1997)Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… (2001).

Shah Rukh Khan.
Photo: Giphy

Fortunately for Shah Rukh Khan, people in our part of the world had no issues lapping up mediocrity under the guise of acting and he emerged on top of B-Town, with an audience all high on senselessly drinking the same old wine from new but shamelessly similar bottles.

But all bad things, like good things, must come to an end and Shah Rukh Khan’s baffling rise was halted right in its track when he started pairing up with equally limited directors in Farah Khan and Rohit Shetty in some extremely direly scripted flicks such as Chennai Express (2013)Happy New Year (2014) and Dilwale (2015) to name a few.

So Fan is King Khan’s way of reaching back to his acting roots and trying to salvage whatever is left of his rapidly depreciating career as an actor.

Shah Rukh Khan.
Photo: Tumblr

Fan is Shah Rukh Khan attempting to marry the only two characters he could act out, the wacky (Darr etc.) and the silly (Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa etc.), before he became the irritatingly tiresome Rahul and the tediously boring Raj.

It’s a film that’s all about a fan’s pursuit of the star and then the star trying to hunt down the fan.

Shah Rukh Khan.
Photo: Screenshot

Fan is Martin Scorsese’s King of Comedy (1982) meets Stephen King’s Misery, with a bit of Tony Scott’s The Fan (1996) thrown in for flavour.

Gaurav (Shah Rukh Khan), a lifelong fan of fictional matinee idol, Aryan Khanna (Shah Rukh Khan) also happens to look like him. He has put his uncanny resemblance to good use by channelling his obsession into a trophy-winning tribute act at the local talent competition. After getting tired of winning the top prize at the said show repeatedly, he decides to present his latest award to his idol as a birthday present.

Shah Rukh Khan.
Photo: Screenshot

Shah Rukh Khan.
Photo: Screenshot

With this thought in mind, Gaurav embarks on a pilgrimage to Mumbai to meet his celebrity-god. Once there, he realises that there are millions of others like himself and begins to feel neglected when he turns up at Aryan’s doorstep. In order to grab his hero’s attention and meet him personally, Gaurav hatches a sinister plan which backfires spectacularly when his first encounter with his obsession turns ugly.

Shah Rukh Khan.
Photo: Screenshot

When slighted by his idol, Gaurav, owing to his striking resemblance, vows to make the narcissistic star chase after him and engineers a bitter confrontation that plays out in London, Dubrovnik and Mumbai.

Shah Rukh Khan.
Photo: Screenshot

Fan is not a great film. Well, heck, it’s not even a mediocre one! What it is though, is a brave film. With an intriguing premise devoid of any conventional Bollywood song, inexplicably shot at exotic locales and lacking an established eye-candy in the form of a leading B-town lady, the movie certainly deserves credit for being audacious by breaking all the rules of archaically commercial filmmaking. But the outrageously flawed script and the logic-defying drama in the second half puts a stop to all the brownie points that Fan earned for a uniquely daring concept.

Shah Rukh Khan.
Photo: Screenshot

I am still trying to wrap my head around how a common fan can become so adept at dangerous Parkour stunts and death-defying intercity chases. Not to mention, a super star running after a common fan, who bizarrely turns out to have all the unlikely resources at his disposal. Strangely, no personal body guard or cops step up to take the responsibility.

Talk about taking a huge leap of faith with cinematic liberties.

Other than the first half an hour, with the precise Delhi detailing that Maneesh Sharma is so good at, the Band Baaja Baaraat (2010) famed director fails at every single turn in telling a story that had so much potential.

Maneesh Sharma.
Photo: IMDb

For instance, he could have worked harder on developing the real conflict in the plot instead of concentrating on the ridiculous chases. The narrative could have been a lot more captivating if he had focused on making the cat and mouse chase more difficult for the unresourceful Gaurav instead of the have-it-all Aryan.

The leads were so shoddily written that even when you are supposed to be empathetic towards one and judge the other, you couldn’t quite decide. Frankly, I personally couldn’t even care! This is a testament to how emotionally disengaging the doppelgänger duo were as characters, in terms of both scriptwriting and acting.

A saving grace of sorts is the top tier special effects work from world-renowned makeup artist and nine-time Academy Award nominee Greg Cannom who has also contributed his expertise to Dracula (1992)Mrs Doubtfire (1993) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008).

Greg Cannom and Shah Rukh Khan.
Photo: IMDb

Shah Rukh Khan.
Photo: Screenshot

If there is one thing I have learned over the time as an avid movie watcher, it’s not to have any high hopes from a film that has anything to do with SRK.

With a tremendously promising concept, Fan could have been a whopping shot at redemption for SRK. Alas, the nauseous glorification of King Khan by the filmmakers in the most melodramatically Bollywood way possible made sure that never happened.

The King of Bollywood is almost dead, long live the King!

Shah Rukh Khan.
Photo: Giphy

Do you still have high hopes from Shah Rukh Khan after watching Fan?

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Hassan Sardar

Hassan Sardar

The author is an aspiring filmmaker and a diehard Liverpool fan. He also teaches Screenwriting and Cinematography, and loves tattoos and flip-flops. He tweets as @CineSardar (twitter.com/CineSardar)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • raj

    thank god. At last a real true analysis on one of the most pathetic movies for centuries. No way near Baazigar or Darr… SRKs worst performance ever. I couldn’t even sit for the whole movie.Recommend

  • jk_pti

    the author is biased. i loved the movieRecommend

  • Usra Sami

    You then watch geet mala indian movies. Enjoy emraan hashmi dude.Fan is all about characters acting and a pretty good cinematic experience.
    No cheap acts were therw to amuse ppl like item numbers.Recommend

  • pk

    I also hate him. But strangely I liked this movie. I watched it thrice. May be because I liked one of the scene where he came to meet his fans, climbed gate & waved at them. The background music to this particular scene was so much powerful that entire theater was on blast, it literally brought tears in my eyes. Rest of the time I slept.Recommend

  • Ma

    i would rather be a ceiling fan than SRK’s fan….Recommend

  • MA

    “The King of Bollywood is almost dead, long live the King!” so if the Kind is dead then why on earth would you hail him to live long….Recommend

  • The Truth

    Agreed. I would rather watch paint dry on a wall than this below average movie.Recommend

  • san

    Real and Honest opinion/ review from the author.Public has to accept that SRK magic has vanished now.Monotonous style,expressions wont work any more.Recommend

  • Fareeha

    This is biased against the greatest actor of the century.Recommend

  • shrabani

    nice analysis .. Watchd it over the weekend. Felt its a waste of time and money.Recommend

  • Muhammed Usama Aziz

    Lol at the author. You can open your eyes and see the vote results :DRecommend

  • sabsh

    Mr Hassan Sardar, if you are giving 1 star to Fan how much star will you give to ur paki movies !!!Recommend

  • Sadaf

    Sigh as a critic I sympathize with you . It must be difficult to like a film when you are already biased against the lead actor . I have the same problem myself but this is just a sad little hatchet job not a review . hence I doubt anyone will take it seriously but hey …. enjoy . Why not review something you might enjoy instead but I guess some people revel in negativityRecommend

  • raj

    really… what about those itineraries that gaurav got for such a super star.. he knew all about it. he had so much money to roam around and plan attacks.. then comes the funniest. When aryan khanna had two separate footages of one himself and other of gaurav (molesting that girl), then why the hell aryan didn’t ask for Police.. it was europe’s police not indian tullas :P the movie is full of those cheap unrealistic actsRecommend

  • AZL

    Most of the Indian movies are logic defying and a copy script from different films. The other Khans do the same. Movie is not that bad.Recommend

  • Afzal

    Criticism is good for this guy, try and make any difference we will see. SRK rocks in the movie FAN and for the last two and a half decades. If you don’t like him its your choice.Recommend

  • http://www.ithinkdiff.com Imran Hussain

    I’d rather read nothing than read this horrible article.Recommend

  • Anonymous

    I dont disagree with the movie review on FAN.
    But writing off Khans whole past career stunning performances like Darr, Bazigar & DDLJ is quite ridiculous on your part.

    I mean come on Hassan Sardar, give credit where due…otherwise you sound like a B Hurt Biased fan of Amir or salman.
    If you cant rectify that choice, well i dont blame you since you are a liverpool fan…not much can be expected lol!Recommend

  • concerned

    This movie was piece of crap! i mean i always wonder how can u even call him an actor?Recommend

  • concerned

    This movie was piece of crap! i mean i always wonder how can u even call him an actor?Recommend

  • Umer Jt Dawood

    This is what is wrong with critics, so much power to change public opinion, and they resort to destroying someone who actually has made it in this life. Recommend

  • jk_pti

    he sold his shop… remember :)Recommend

  • jk_pti

    mate that was not against Pakistani or Indi movies. Dont make it a country issue.Recommend

  • pk

    All movies are unrealistic for that matter. Even so called “based on true events” are also unrealistic. Which real person speak with background music ? If you want realistic stuff then read a novel based on true events and imagine scenes yourself. This is his finest work after Swades. PeriodRecommend

  • raj

    haha.. another hilarious comments.. shop was sold in rupees and he spend aweful number of days planning and plotting things around.. and god know how he got itineraryRecommend

  • raj

    to be honest, pak story tellings are better then india’s. Look at all the dramas and actors working in it. they are far better then indian actors who lose clothes just for money and are never required to do it.. just to give pleasure to single indiansRecommend

  • komal

    Not a great fan of shah rukh myself, but this piece is highly biased ! The actor has proved his worth in movies like swades , my name is khan and chak de etc, he usually plays romantic rajs and rahuls bcoz people flock to the cinemas to see these typical masala movies and not these kinds of movies . He has to act in such films becoz he’s offered these kinds of roles and usually these typical masala movies are the ones that actually fare well at the box office !Recommend

  • Ali

    Only one thing to say to you man…..’DoN’t bE JaLoUs’Recommend

  • komal

    Not a huge Shah rukh fan myself , but this review is highly biased . If you re questoning his acting skills then you need to see his movies like swades chak de ,my name is khan etc which unfortunately bombed at the box office bcoz they werent the typical masala movie that every movie goer likes to see. The man has to repeatedly play rahul and raj becoz these sanely scripted movies never fare well at the box office .Recommend

  • Neera

    To be particularly honest, Shah Rukh Khan has once again disappointed me like he did with Dilwale. FAN was just as boring and dragged on as any other D-List movie. I did not expect this from the great SRK.
    His career is in a turmoil, and he needs to amp up his game if he wants to win back the cinema.Recommend

  • Parth Kothari

    Interesting post. I saw Fan the weekend that it came out and I also had mixed feelings regarding the movie. In my opinion, everyone involved in the film had the opportunity to make it memorable but many times, the realism and story-line was lacking. I actually enjoyed the second half more than the first half, especially since that was when most of the conflict was shown. Despite being a fan of Shah Rukh Khan, I do understand why you don’t admire him. However, I don’t believe he gets his due when it comes to versatility. This is the same man who starred in films like Don, Chak De India and Swades within the span of three years. Yes, his film choices have been off lately but I am glad he chose to star in Fan because it was unique.Recommend

  • Parth Kothari

    Interesting post. I saw Fan the weekend that it came out and I also had mixed feelings regarding the movie. In my opinion, everyone involved in the film had the opportunity to make it memorable but many times, the realism and story-line was lacking. I actually enjoyed the second half more than the first half, especially since that was when most of the conflict was shown. Despite being a fan of Shah Rukh Khan, I do understand why you don’t admire him. However, I don’t believe he gets his due when it comes to versatility. This is the same man who starred in films like Don, Chak De India and Swades within the span of three years. Yes, his film choices have been off lately but I am glad he chose to star in Fan because it was unique.Recommend

  • Parth Kothari

    Interesting post. I saw Fan the weekend that it came out and I also had mixed feelings regarding the movie. In my opinion, everyone involved in the film had the opportunity to make it memorable but many times, the realism and story-line was lacking. I actually enjoyed the second half more than the first half, especially since that was when most of the conflict was shown. Despite being a fan of Shah Rukh Khan, I do understand why you don’t admire him. However, I don’t believe he gets his due when it comes to versatility. This is the same man who starred in films like Don, Chak De India and Swades within the span of three years. Yes, his film choices have been off lately but I am glad he chose to star in Fan because it was unique.Recommend

  • Krush

    I couldn’t even watch the entire movie and I really really wanted to like it. I have nothing for or against SRK. I watch Hindi movies because I love India and I am studying the Hindi language so I am always happy when a new movie comes out. Before I go into why this movie was unbearably bad, I would like to say that in the past 4, 5 years, I have noticed an immense improvement in Bollywood films: from the scripts to the acting to the direction. I am a US citizen, half Japanese with an Italian passport and I currently reside in France. All four of these countries are famous for their cinematography so, I guess you could call me a movie-buff. I watch everything in a movie. A few Bollywood movies of different genres that I have enjoyed in the past couple of years are: Highway, Aligarh, Masaan, The Lunchbox, Bajirao Mastani, and I would throw in there even Kapoor & Sons and Dedh Ishq as far as light comedy is concerned. These movies follow a sort of logic and the acting and directing is spot-on.

    Getting back to Fan: the idea was great, which is what made the result so much more disappointing. Here’s a list of things that are incredibly wrong in this movie and possible solutions:
    1. The first part of the movie is not half bad until Gaurav meets the other superstar, Sid, Aryan’s young competition. There is no way that a fan would be allowed into a star’s trailer alone. Period. Two, Sid is bigger that Gaurav, his hands are not tied…why doesn’t he just punch Gaurav and call his guards, who are probably outside of the door (if we want to believe that they somehow allowed a crazy fan into the trailer alone.) From there, it just gets more and more stupid: Gaurav goes into Madame Tussauds and hence, the idiotic, unrealistic chase scene. How in the world can he jump from one ledge to another in that way? And why does the movie make the British police appear so stupid? No police officer in the world would chase a criminal that way. Let’s backtrack: How is it possible that no one in the museum immediately sees that Gaurav is not Aryan/SRK? Impossible. No real star would be roaming around a wax museum in the first place and above all, not alone. And no star would behave that way unless he was on drugs. Also, any fan would recognise the imposter immediately. If the police had any doubt about the identity, they would never risk treating an Indian superstar so horribly for fear that the entire Indian-British community would come out and revolt (which they would). And what about all of those people filming at the episode? All of those videos would have gone viral and in two seconds the fans of Aryan/SRK would immediately see Gaurav’s imposter face. At that point, the police commissioner, instead of putting Aryan/SRK in jail, he would ask the star’s help to find the imposter. By this point, the entire movie has totally lost any credibility and everything after this is just crazy. I mean, how does Gaurav get Aryan/SRK’s manager’s personal phone number? Impossible. When Aryan/SRK realises that it is Gaurav, why doesn’t he call the police? The police would immediately trace Gaurav’s travel plans and know that he is the crazy person. I could go on and on and on….instead,
    I don’t believe in criticising without attempting to give a solution so:

    1. Gaurav: to help defend Aryan, he should have filmed himself viciously insulting and threatening Sid, and perhaps trying to attack him. Or perhaps, trying to break into his house to cause him bodily harm. The videos would have gone viral, Aryan/SRK would have heard about them. Gaurav gets thrown into jail and goes on a hunger strike if he doesn’t meek Aryan/SRK who eventually comes to the jail out of pity and anger. (maybe Gaurav’s crazy parents make a plea on video to the superstar). Then, Aryan disappoints Gaurav by not defending his actions, in fact, he scolds him, criticises him, tells him to go home and get a life. He reprimands Gaurav for forcing him to come to the police station to visit him and how it is just a waste of his time….etc etc etc.
    Enough to get Gaurav angry.

    2. Gaurav’s revenge: he sells his shop and with the money, he begins training, working out, getting big and strong like his ex-idol. He finds a plastic surgeon who will change his nose and other features so that he really looks like a young Aryan/SRK. The movie shows Gaurav putting something in his shoes to make himself appear taller. So, in the second half of the movie, Gaurav and Aryan are almost identical. Then he puts his plan into action in a realistic way. He goes to London and, without doing anything crazy or against the law, he begins to slowly and steadily ruin Aryan’s reputation. He uploads videos of himself in strip clubs partying with the sleaziest people, he treats fans horribly but allows people to film it (as would happen nowadays), he finds out when Aryan/SRK is away from home and then, takes videos of himself running around town with different women until even Aryan’s wife begins to suspect. Here, the possibilities were endless had the scriptwriter been more clever. Since no one can catches Gaurav, Aryan/SRK’s image slowly deteriorates. Then, the twist: even though most people know there is something fishy going on, they begin to associate Aryan with Gaurav’s bad behaviour. Sponsors drop Aryan, his movies bomb. The worst comes when people begin to anxiously wait for Gaurav’s next move and they start to ‘like’ him, to ‘relate’ to him. He slowly becomes more famous than the real Aryan, also because he is younger, fresher. People no longer care who is real and who isn’t. This is the power of social networks, they can make or break someone.
    At this point, Aryan takes his revenge.

    I think the movie would have stood a chance like this. What do you think?Recommend