Strange indeed are the ways of the film industry. Expensive projects are green-lit minus objective assessment, merely because a superstar can be signed to drive it. After all,
if they flop, the excuses are ready-exam season, IPL, weather, other releases-anything!
Strange, too, are the ways of the media. Someone raves about the film as a veritable milestone, and condemns it less than a week later! Critics who crave logic in a Farah Khan movie either turn a
Nelson’s eye to glaring flaws or are so carried away by the branding of the team that they miss the liberal licenses taken with logic. And while we can respect completely opposite opinions and
views to ours, we do find inconsistent and convenient views from within the same individual distinctly fishy!
But strangest are the ways of the audience: they are remarkably consistent, never respect brands or big names when they invest hard-earned money and time in a film, and are becoming increasing
ruthless as movie-watching budgets spiral! Who will gamble big money on a film that looks unappetizing? And negative word-of-mouth is the last straw. Reviews have never mattered anyway!
And as we all know, the latest and most glaring example of all this is Fan.
Jodi, Jab Tak Hai Jaan and a small cameo in Saathiya), it avoidably mars their flawless record. Even Saathiya was a hit and Jab Takâ€¦ made it to success levels.
But this awesome record has an explanation: all these films had a cerebral approach to audience-friendly entertainment of diverse kinds. This ensured good or great content, (often) brilliant music
and a decent or better script!
At the base level itself, the concept of Fan was skewed: an observer calls it “too uni-dimensional to have a graph.” While this is debatable, the different adverse ways in which viewers have
looked at the film is not. For example, how can a star like Aryan be so churlish to his die-hard fan that he tells him he is sending a car to bring him home but sends cops to beat him instead? And
this because Gaurav has ‘punished’ a rival actor who had berated Aryan? Couldn’t Aryan have, instead, met and then tried to drill sense into Gaurav’s head about how he had gone overboard in his
Here is an excerpt from the letter of a woman viewer, who is no movie buff but had watched Fan and read Shah Rukh Khan’s interview too: “Our country has numerous Gauravs. People who live
their dreams through the faces on the silver screen or through political leaders. People committed suicide when Jayalalitha was arrested, when Rajkumar died and when MGR died. And this is my
contention against SRK. He had the power to change this alarming phenomenon, but instead he glorifies it, calling such love unconditional.”
“What is unconditional love?” the writer goes on. “Is it self-seeking? Is it revengeful? Is it completely oblivious to the needs of one’s own family members and one’s responsibility toward one’s
family? Gaurav’s love was all of the above, yet it has been deemed ‘unconditional’ by a star himself. I, for one, would have been content if the movie had ended after that intense scene in which
Aryan knocks some sense into Gaurav’s head. But of course, the ‘fans’ would have not been happy with that conclusion. Because who wants to be told that the star your life revolves around, has a
life of his/her own, which continues irrespective of your existence?”
At base level, therefore, unless writers Habib Faisal and Sharat Katariya and director Maneesh Sharma originally wanted to make an updated (as in relevant to 2016) version of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s
classic Guddi on a similar theme, there was really no point in writing the script itself, forget making a film that cost over Rs 100 crore and then expecting it to ride to huge profits
only on the shoulders of ‘two’ Shah Rukh Khan’s, minus a heroine, a hit music score or basic entertainment!
And since when has any genuinely talented filmmaker been dependent completely or primarily on a star rather than on his own creativity and passion? Does his credibility not ride more
on the quality of a film rather than its box-office fate?
The Confused Script
A truism that has been proved infinite numbers of times is that the “realistic”/different/ supposedly cerebral filmmakers always come croppers at making big, commercial movies. And when such
filmmakers are additionally confused about which school to follow and make a concoction that is half-mocktail and half-cocktail, the crash-landing is loud and clear. A Raj Kapoor can make a Boot
Polish, a Nasir Husain a Baharon Ke Sapne, but when a Sriram Raghavan attempts an Agent Vinod or an Anurag Kashyap a Bombay Velvet, they invite catastrophe!
To put it simply, a mainstream, pan-Indian film can only be made by someone with an (actually) superior understanding of Indian cinema that can come only from a higher intellect, even to the extent
that illogic becomes logic, as in Bahubali.
Now let’s look at the licenses Fan takes with logic:
* Gaurav’s father tells him that he does not have Rs. 20,000 to finance his son’s trip to Mumbai to meet his idol, but they must have splurged the same or higher money for the effects and
change of costumes in the local mela where Gaurav (we are told) performs every year! And Gaurav’s parents themselves supervise backstage to boost their son’s performance, despite knowing his
obsession that all good parents would try and discourage.
* The whole sequence of Gaurav trying to escape from the cops in a seedy hotel is so long-drawn and absurdly shown, clearly just to add some bogus thrills that have no place in a “real-life”
* Gaurav generates big money to spend on his revenge on Aryan, selecting exotic foreign locations as his base. That money is briefly shown as coming from disposing off his shop, his only
means of livelihood. Really? And how did his parents permit this? Did they never ask him what he was planning-and why?
* The Madame Tussaud’s-London episodes were ridiculous to the extreme. How come a major star like Aryan Khanna had no alibi-for three long hours anyway?
* Whether in London, Dubrovnik or at Aryan Khanna’s home, how does Gaurav look sufficiently like Aryan to impersonate him? And suddenly, within seconds, becomes Gaurav again? Aryan and Gaurav
clearly look quite different. So how can Gaurav look, and also not look, like Aryan as per convenience! And he can sufficiently fool even the star’s staff, wife (for a while) and children
too, despite arriving home from overseas minus staff!
* And what do you know? Even Aryan at will can look or not look like Gaurav! He impersonates his fan in the next year’s mela, no questions asked!
* Then there is the matter of Aryan chasing Gaurav, not just in Dubrovnik but also in the crowded streets of Delhi at night, with both of them climbing pipes and jumping across rooftops and
more with the agility of a Mowgli from The Jungle Book! Shah Rukh Khan had stated that this film was about “real people, and actors and even fans do not sing in real life.” But apparently,
according to the makers of the film, “real superstars” and their ordinary fans can run endlessly like marathon runners and do all the (tough) stunts in real life minus duplicate stuntmen, cables or
In the end, the fan tells the star, “Oy jaande, tu nahin samjhega (Forget it, you will never understand!)” But we know exactly why this particular Fan puttered out rather than becoming a
breezy, wholesome entertainer. So when will banners stop relying on yes-men as sounding boards and get to terra firma and know which project needs what kinds of makers, budgets and scripts?
Our heart goes out to Shah Rukh Khan, who is superb as Gaurav and even better as the taciturn Aryan, for at the end of the day, it has been he who has been taken for a ride.
The public can never be fooled anyway.