"Fan" gets easier to relate to when you are a Shah Rukh Khan fan.
Delhi-boy Gaurav Chandana's obsession with Aryan Khanna will make sense to you if you have done at least one of these things: Waited patiently outside SRK's palatial bungalow Mannat in the scorching Mumbai heat only to catch a glimpse of him, spread out your arms in the signature SRK-pose, screamed in excitement having spotted the actor's waxwork at London's Madame Tussauds, bought the flashy "COOL" chain he flaunted in "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" and have at least once said "Bade bade deshon mein aisi chhoti chhoti baatein hoti rehti hai Senorita." To be honest, I have done all of it.
What Gaurav seeks from Aryan is simple and never out-of-place; he only wants a five-minute meet and greet with his idol. But the admiration for his "God," as he lovingly calls him, exceeds levels of sanity after he is rebuked by the star and beaten up brutally by cops on his orders.
In between all the madness, Gaurav never forgets he is son to supportive parents Yogendra Tikoo and Deepika Amin as Mr. & Mrs. Chandana, respectively. Despite being in trouble, he makes it a point to let his family know about his whereabouts. That was probably to show that there wasn't anything off about him other than the fact that he is a staunch Aryan fan.
SRK as Gaurav convincingly plays the cold and calculative stalker and at times better than he did in "Darr" and "Anjaam." Swivelling around in a chair, Gaurav decides he will no longer chase the star. One can see the seething emotions in his eyes as he rips and scrapes posters off the wall, which was creatively done-up with every last photo of Aryan.
The first hour somewhat does justice to the genre. Although it was thrilling to watch Gaurav jump parapets while escaping police officials, fight an actor on the rise and shake Aryan's confidence that stems from his superstardom, tighter editing by Namrata Rao could have kept the pace from breaking on and off.
However, the plot starts to fall apart in the second half, where all they do is chase each other across continents. But the plus here is Manu Anand's camera work that lets you absorb the earthiness of Delhi's by-lanes, appreciate Croatian architecture and be charmed by the spirit of London.
A middle class boy spending money (he earned by selling off his internet café) on foreign tours and keeping a track of the star's itinerary will leave you surprised. How does Gaurav know every minute details of Aryan's plans is something that remains a mystery. Every time Shah Rukh paid a visit to New Delhi, I would know about it the next day, from the papers. I guess that explains why I can never be a Gaurav.
Director Maneesh Sharma has written Gaurav well and what makes him real is his simple needs. He is innocent in believing that Aryan will love him back and entertain his demands. I have done worse – staring at Shah Rukh's poster thinking he will walk out of it one day and give me a hug; I was 8 then.
Maneesh scores with "Fan," because he has kept the relationship between the film's central characters subtle, as the usual fan-meets-star story would have not struck the right chord. On the other hand, he also toys with the idea of how vulnerable well-known people are when exposed to testing situations.
As promised by SRK, the VFX work is top-drawer. The scenes where the two of them confront each other are as real as it can get and not once did it seem that they were doctored on the editing table. The prosthetics is another aspect that works for film, but I would have liked it if Gaurav's overbite wasn't so in-your-face.
As anyone would think, a Bollywood film without a song can get a tad boring. But Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravijani have done a bang-up job of sprucing the narrative with music pieces, which feature aggressive tempo.
The opening visuals cannot be missed. Shah Rukh receiving his maiden Filmfare Award, dancing with carefree abandon to "Aisi Deewangi Dekhi Nahin Kahi" ("Deewana") and explaining why he is the best in the "Aap Ki Adalat" interview with Rajat Sharma from 1993, will make any SRK fan nostalgic, and the ones in denial will find themselves indulging in the King Khan craze.
With "Fan," SRK proves why he is considered one of the finest actors in business. He plays Gaurav and Aryan with effortless ease, having the viewers believe that they have been portrayed by two different people.
Welcome back, Shah Rukh, the actor.
International Business Times India rating: 4 stars.