3 and 1/2 stars
We've all had pictures of Bollywood stars, Rock stars or Sports stars plastered on our Godrej steel almirahs at home, inside and outside. We've carefully preserved first day first show tickets in our diaries. But how far will you go to get your idol's attention? This is a wonderfully taut thriller that will keep you switching sides: sometimes for the star, some times for the fan.
The film is so tailor-made for Shah Rukh Khan, you cannot imagine any other star to possess the cojones to perform a self-deprecating role where his real life events are incorporated into the story. Who else but Shah Rukh can understand the madness of traveling WT (without ticket) by train to make it in big bad Bollywood?
Shah Rukh has been sniggered at, reviled for 'dancing at weddings'. The film so skilfully uses this fact and weaves it into fiction that you can only admire Shah Rukh for practically admitting that he is treated like an 'item' even though he performs a great act at these weddings.
But this film is as much about his fan as it is about him. Shah Rukh plays Aryan Khanna the superstar as well his crazy fan Gaurav Chandana. Gaurav mimics Shah Rukh at neighborhood contests, his room is plastered with photographs of the star and his parents indulge his innocent fandom. When the movie starts, you clap in appreciation because you have done the same - cut out and pasted pictures and posters of movie stars, rock stars or sports stars on your own Godrej steel cupboards, that one wall you shared with your siblings' hero pictures, you kissed their pictures in school lockers - and more.
I must confess I called up a radio station and was thrilled when my valentine's day message was accepted as a winner for a 'meet your Bollywood star valentine show', and I went to his house with 20 other fans for high tea. We met him, and I don't remember anything else that happened to my life for the next few days. So when Gaurav meets Aryan Khanna, I laughed, a little embarrassed, knowing that I must have looked exactly like that when I met the superstar in real life. That moment should win Shah Rukh all the awards.
We've seen his acting chops in Swades, and Chak De! and you loved him in as the eternal lover in Dil Se as well as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge. Here, he is everything and also plays a star hounded by a crazed fan.
Cynics will say they have seen it in Wesley Snipes' Fan, and even Arnie's Last Action Hero. But I will steer you to remember Kathy Bates in Misery, and how a fan can easily turn 'nuts'. Shakespeare was wrong when he claimed that a woman scorned was the most dangerous thing ever. Here a fan slighted by his idol turns into a monster.
You saw this in the trailer, didn't you? I did. And like most jaded people, I too wondered how a mainstream Bollywood movie could pull this off. Bollywood movies have suffered the curse of the second half for ever and ever.
But the film surprises you at every turn. You are sometimes the fan, and at other times the superstar the crazed fan is hounded. As the fan turns crazy and the star gives him the chase, you go through so many thoughts: How dare he slight the 'bechara' fan! So arrogant! Serves the Star right! Oh no! What is this Fan doing! He's so demented! What will the Star do now? Punch him! Punch him!
Yes the chases are a tad too long, but everyone in Bollywood is stuck on parkour. Sigh. But all is forgiven because we are shocked at what happens next.
And when the superstar claims his Delhi roots, there erupts a spontaneous applause amongst the audience. Now the star is going to get down and dirty, you know. But the fan is not to be taken for granted.
Full marks to Gaurav's parents, the star wife (happily surprised to see Waluscha on screen!), Gaurav's one sided love Neha are all wonderful support system in this movie.
You will not come away untouched, that is for sure. There are so many moments where you know 'this could be me', and others where you wonder 'could I turn into this?' You have heard fans writing letters in blood for stars, this is a tribute to that madness from a star to his fans.
p.s. I would watch the movie again only for the montage we saw in the beginning of the film. Clever, clever technique!