I am what I am only because of the fans. Without them, I’m nothing.
In Fan, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan takes on a dual role. He’s both star and fan in this thriller; the star he plays is Guarav; the obsessive fan is Aryan. There’s not a whole lot new here in the area of plot. It’s a fairly typical obsessive fan thriller. What really works here is the execution. This is a great film, no question, but it’s also the best Bollywood film I’ve seen in . . . a long, long time, maybe a decade. Khan has always had charisma, but I’ve never considered him a particularly good actor; he’s just an affable, charming screen presence, which is usually fine. But he really blew me out of the water here with his really intense performance. A lot of makeup was used to ensure that Guarav and Aryan don’t actually look exactly alike, which I really appreciated. It was more realistic, I suppose, and it also kept things from ever being confusing. But as good as Khan is as the awkward, childish Aryan, it was his work as superstar Guarav that really knocked me out. Neither the script nor Khan are interested in making Guarav particularly likeable, which is an interesting layering. And it is Guarav who has the most interesting character journey in this film; I’d say he’s one of the best written Bollywood characters ever, actually. He begins the film as a shallow, facile, somewhat obnoxious superstar, but by the end of the film, he’s learned things about himself in a really compelling way. The first half hour or so is kind of slow going, I’d say; we spend a bit too much time building Aryan’s character when he could really be sketched in pretty well as the movie progresses. But the film is nearly two-and-a-half hours and after you pass the forty-five minute mark or so, the movie just never lets up. There are three really amazing action sequences here. This is Bollywood action at its absolute height of excitement. A sequence involving an escape across the crumbling façade of an apartment building is incredibly suspenseful and two incredibly long chase scenes are intense and exciting. This movie really knocked me out. The last couple of Bollywood films I’ve seen were fairly by the numbers and less than stellar, but this one reminded me of what Bollywood can do when they’re really on top of things. In terms of characters, acting, writing, direction, action . . . this one’s a winner all the way. 4 stars.
tl;dr – intense action-thriller is Bollywood at its best; surprising focus on character, brilliant action sequences & a performance by Khan head and shoulders above anything else he’s done. 4 stars.