Shah Rukh Khan’s life is not his own, but he badly wants it back. That’s what you take home from his new drama Fan: a story about middle-class Delhi resident Gaurav, an obsessed fan who travels all the way to Mumbai to meet his idol, Aryan Khanna, then turns on him when he is not given five minutes of the superstar’s time.
SRK, 50, is magnificent as the 25-year-old Gaurav, thanks to superb prosthetics and his histrionic skills.
But where he truly excels is as Khanna, the actor dealing with the adulation of billions – because he is playing himself.
This SRK, who has famously portrayed (ad nauseam) the romantic hero, smiling and throwing open his arms in that signature move that causes billions to swoon – is not the one we know. This SRK might be the real version: tense, grim and a hostage to his celebrity status.
At no time is this more apparent than on his birthday each year, when he steps into the sturdy metal cage erected on top of his palatial Mumbai mansion and waves at the tens of thousands of people who have come from all over India and the world to wish him well.
Fan is full of some heart-stopping moments – especially when the diabolical Gaurav methodically goes about destroying Khanna’s career – but this scene, which was actually filmed outside Khan’s home, is perhaps the most bone-chilling. It is shot from the actor’s point of view, panning over the surging crowds beneath as they push, hold aloft phones, photographs, garlands and boxes of mithai (traditional sweets), and shout “Shah Rukh, Shah Rukh, WE LOVE YOU”!
It is so overwhelmingly terrifying that, seated in the audience, watching the chaos unfold, I find myself shrinking back and thinking wildly: “He needs a helipad! Then he could fly in and out on a chopper!”
So what must it be like for him?
SRK has said time and again – both off screen and in this film – that whatever he is today, it is because of his fans.
He always speaks of his gratitude, and remembers to thank them at every opportunity. These are words that his followers take to heart, few realising that their love must remain unrequited.
But he cannot let them in the door. How can he possibly be expected to establish relationships with billions of people?
Perhaps the only other star who inspires such madness is Amitabh Bachchan, the bastion of Bollywood. Every Sunday the superstar steps out of his Mumbai villa to wave to his worshippers, who queue for hours and hours for darshan – a few moments to gaze at their idol.
The 73-year-old actor still keeps to this weekly ritual, despite the many incidents where fans have threatened to kill themselves. A few years ago, a man arrived outside his home and tried to commit suicide – he consumed toilet cleaner, after announcing: “If Amitabh Bachchan cannot be friends with me in this life, let us be friends after my death.” He was taken to hospital, then duly arrested. Shaken, Bachchan agreed to meet him, and sent him on his way with a gift of 5,000 rupees.
SRK is no different. Time and again, he engages with the crowds, signing autographs, posing for selfies and shaking hands, driving them wild with excitement. Such is his charisma that he will continue to be cherished by billions of people who desire something in return.
But what does SRK owe us, really, except the promise to continue doing what he does best – entertain?
If you call yourself his biggest fan, this is all you should ask of him.
Source: art & life