Thursday, April 21, 2016

R is for review (Fan)

"Let me know if you want to watch Fan with me if not I'm going without you Raja Sen gave it 4.5 stars." This was my almost breathless message to Viv, who's in the US now.

He watched the trailer and asked me to carry on.


But to be honest, I don't blame him. I wasn't too impressed with the trailer myself. I'm the kind of SRK fan who loves him for reasons other than his stardom and prefers to watch only his good movies so that I can continue loving him. Whenever he does a bad movie (and we all know how many there are), I have to go into hiding, especially if I was foolish enough to watch said movie. Ra.One was a big lesson to me on how I should never watch a movie just because it has SRK. It took me forever to recover from the catastrophe that the movie was, which is why I smartly ducked when Happy New Year and Dilwale released.

And that's why when I saw the Fan trailer, I had my reservations and wanted to wait for the reviews. I usually agree with Raja Sen's reviews, so when he gave the movie 4.5 stars, I jumped. And immediately picked up the phone and messaged the one person who would care about at SRK movie as much as me -- my dear friend Starbreez, who despite not being Indian, has watched 94 Hindi movies to date. (Asking Viv was a mere formality; he doesn't watch too many Hindi movies but he does appreciate the really good ones, so I always ask him but rarely go with him.) Starbreez has got a really hectic schedule, but she's always sweet enough to make time for SRK and me (in that particular order). So last night, two SRK fans (though not in the creepy way shown in the film) watched his latest offering 'Fan'.

Here are some random thoughts about the movie. (Spoiler alert: Stop right here, if you have yet to watch the movie!)

  • Oh, the layers in the movie! That for me, was the highlight. I could write an entire post about the layers of each aspect of the movie. (Don't worry, I won't.)

  • The concept is rather brave and also rather easy to screw up, so kudos to Maneesh Sharma and his team for having the conviction to pull it off. On the surface, it's quite the masala movie, but if, like me, you find yourself unable to shrug off the movie a day after watching it, you will uncover the nuances and the tiny details that show how much thought went into it.

  • After a long time. it was refreshing to see SRK step out of his comfort zone and do some real acting. It was clear that he had put a good amount of thought and effort into it, unlike sleepwalking through the role like he does in his usual movies. Not that Fan is in the same league, but after Swades and Chak De, if there is any other movie where he's had to keep his nose to the grindstone, it has to be this.

  • Having said that, I have to admit that this movie will be truly enjoyed by those who already have a positive mindset about SRK as a separate genre of movies. Non-SRK fans or neutral folks might not like it all that much.

  • I liked the fact that they did not glorify the superstar. They showed him to be quite grey -- arrogant, stubborn, insecure, unkind with his words even. It felt like a true and realistic portrayal. When I'd seen him say 'Why should I spare you even 5 seconds?' to his devoted fan in the trailer, I'd found it quite arrogant and cruel, but in the movie, I could totally see where it was coming from.

  • Double roles are really challenging, and I can't think of a movie other than Tanu Weds Manu Returns, where the distinction between the two roles was so clearly etched out. Gaurav was Gaurav and Aryan was Aryan, and kudos to SRK for playing both so brilliantly. I was completely bowled over by how he well played Gaurav as a mix of pathetic and creepy, and the rawness he imparted to Aryan's character. I have to say I was more excited about how he would play Aryan -- how much of himself he would reveal and how much he would hide. And he didn't disappoint me.

  • Going by the gazillions of lookalikes that SRK has, there are so many ways to look like him. I was quite curious about how the makers decided on this particular look for the fan, how many iterations it took, and how they managed to bring together prosthetics and VFX. I found this really cool video with all the details. Now I have a better understanding and appreciation of how much time, patience and coordination something like this takes. The mind boggles at the thought of poor SRK sitting in a chair continuously for 4 hours for make-up, for 70 days. I also laughed out loud at the anecdote the Hollywood make-up artist Greg Cannom shared. He told SRK that SRK was his second most favourite actor in the world. When SRK asked him who the first was, Greg answered, "Everybody else."

  • It must take real courage to play yourself on screen, not in a cameo, but in a full-length role, and kudos to SRK for doing it so well. In fact, I cannot think of any other superstar who could have pulled this off. The only other stars with this kind of fanatical adulation are probably Salman Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, but I cannot see either of them being able to do this. Sallu wouldn't have bothered to put in any effort as usual, and would have reduced the movie to a caricature. (It would still have crossed 100 crores though, so it wouldn't have mattered to him.) AB is too old to have played this, but even in his younger days, I can't seem to imagine him in this role, especially as Gaurav.

  • I have often wondered what it must be like inside SRK's head. The constant bombardment of adulation, hatred, judgement, harsh critiques. Fans who just want to meet him whether he wants to or not. Smiling for photograph after photograph, no matter how tired he is. Crowds pushing, shoving, grabbing, touching. Answering really idiotic and irrelevant questions at press conferences. Waking up to the works of media monkeys who write anything and everything. Money aside, is it really a life to covet? Watch The Inner World of Shah Rukh Khan and The Outer World of Shah Rukh Khan for a behind-the-scenes peek into his life.

  • An SRK movie without a single song? That really took me by surprise. In a good way.

  • Random thought that occured to me when he was jogging - SRK has a really fit body at 50!

  • Of course, the movie is not without its shortcomings, but I'll keep them to a single bullet point. Some of the chase sequences and fight scenes were long, tedious, unnecessary and too unrealistic. Deleting them off would have made the movie tighter and crisper. Some reviews found the second half not as good as the first, and I think the long chase/fight scenes contributed to that. Also, SRK as Gaurav did ham it up in some scenes. Another point which bugged me a little bit was Aryan's stage act towards the end. It's believable for a lookalike fan to ape a star, but for the star to ape a lookalike he's only met once was a little hard to believe. But I let it go as I guess they were trying to show that Aryan was a keen observer and a really good actor.

  • I actually liked the fact that the movie did not have a 'happy ending'. I feel like there could not have been any other ending for a movie like this. It had to be this way to underscore the 'you won't understand' sentiment that both the fan and the idol feel about the situation. And I liked the fact that contrary to what I thought would happen, Aryan never said 'sorry', all the way till the end.

  • My favourite scenes from the movie were rather unusual -- most were close-up shots of Aryan. The little lines of worry on the forehead, the intense eyes, the staring into space, the sudden smile in the mirror just to check that he was ready for the big show, it was all beautifully done.

  • And finally, I quote Raja Sen, for summing up the movie in the best possible manner:
    "Take a bow, Shah Rukh Khan. Not only for a phenomenal, genuinely groundbreaking performance but for being bold enough to give us the sight of a boy wearing painted-on abs while aping you dancing in a song where you, according to rumour, wore painted-on abs. For a glimpse at a worn out 50-year-old man -- massaging his temples, and stretching at the lines on his face -- before turning on the high-wattage smile and stepping out to market his myth."


Divya said...

I agree with what you feel. SRK did a great job with both the roles. Movies like this can't have a happy ending but this one really, for lack of a better word, really disturbed me.

Arun said...

Grrr, now I'll have to watch the movie.

--Sunrise-- said...

Sayesha - you and I are soulmates who don't know it yet. There are SO FEW people left in the world who are a) unabashedly fond of Bollywood (I feel like kids in India these days think it's too uncool or whatever. Sigh.) and b) like the SRK for the brilliant actor he is - given the right setting. I also gleefully escaped Happy New Year and Dilwale for the same reasons! (Even though it meant I missed out on Kajol. KAJOL.) I'd love to hear about the layers - I feel this went straight over my head - what layers? o.O But YES I agree, the movie had me hooked and SRK proved his mettle all over again. <3

Sayesha said...

But then it would have been terrible if they had shown Aryan apologising to Gaurav. Not to mention all the real-life psycho copycat fans that would have sprung up to ruin SRK's life and make him say 'sorry' to them.

Yikes, I hope you don't hate it! :O

Thank you. :)
PS: Can't stand Kajol anymore. I lost her from the time I tolerated her in K3G.
PPS: For me the big layers were all the little snippets we got into a superstar's life -- the arrogance, the arrest, the dancing at weddings, the 'audience interaction script', the insecurities, the exhaustion. All that was shown brilliantly I felt. :)