Sunday, May 01, 2016

Shah Rukh Khan's 'Fan' -- A tale of psychosis and inner demons

It is no secret that Shah Rukh plays the fan (Gaurav) and the star (Aryan). But this simple fact makes the film's story dizzyingly convoluted in terms of its meaning. Are the fan and star two faces of the same personality -- a benign Dr Jekyll and a malignant Mr Hyde. Had the fan or the star been played by someone other than Shah Rukh Khan then it would have remained an interestingly social and psychological story. Now, with the same face and very nearly the same mannerisms, the fan and star confront each other rather menacingly.
It has to be said of Shah Rukh Khan that he is a star willing to do new and different things. There is a certan restlessness in him, which is positive. If one ignores the irritating characteristics of Delhi-wallah -- the silly swagger, the hollow loudness, the fake amiabllity, the obnoxious humility -- he is an artist one is forced to take note of. And he takes risks while exploring new mind and physical spaces of the artist, and he is even willing to go over the edge.
In "Fan" he does exactly that. The self-destructiveness of a psychotic is fully laid bare. The temptation to read to read the film as a Hamletian war within the mind of the artist does not hold good. This is a tale of a fan, who does crazy and even criminal things. There is no way of taming him, no way of socialising and normalising him. The film just hints at the mass psychosis of star-gazing and star-adulation, and it seem even afraid of looking in the face of this phenomenon. But the film is no less daring in looking at the instance of a single fan who threatens the life of the star. The message that the star is an ordinary person from a humble background who makes it to the top and that it is impossible for a fan to bask in the glory of another person, where the other person is the star is the really meaning of the film. But this straight-forward meaning is in danger of getting lost because Shah Rukh Khan plays both the roles. But you cannot fault the film's intention.
In many ways, and at other levels, "Fan" is a psychological and an action thriller, with the star chasing the fan with the intention of pinning down the mad creature. The dark edges of the story loom large as the mad creature in the life of the star remains elusive and continues to create havoc in the star's life. This is a supremely intelligent movie, with technical finesse of admirable quality.
Manu Anand's photography which maintains the grey light through the movie underscores the grey theme and grey mood. Namrata Rao's editing -- she was also the editor of "Kahaani" and "Jab Tak Hai Jaan" -- sets the pace for the narrative of the movie. Yes, it is a triumph for director Maneesh Sharma, the man who made "Band, Baaja, Baaraat" and "Shudh Desi Romance". But it remains a Shah Rukh Khan film because the star-actor is willing to go into the dark territory of mental extremities.

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