Posts Tagged ‘ Maneesh Sharma ’

Fan

fan-poster

Fan
Release date: April 15, 2016
Directed by: Maneesh Sharma
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Amin, Yogendra Tiku, Waluscha De Sousa, Shriya Pilgaonkar, Sayani Gupta

First up, there will be people on the internet telling you that this film is inspired by The Fan (1996), and someone might even go as far as claiming that it’s ripped off from Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (1951), just to get a sensationalist reaction. The 1996 film itself was very loosely based on a 1981 horror film titled, again, The Fan. 

All of the Fan films have a celebrity obsessed fan and the said celebrity at the heart of the plot. Each of the respective storylines depict the fan’s obsession taking a life of its own, and thereby lending a tinge of an antagonistic shade to him when he tries to put himself in the celebrity’s life. The similarities end here. Habib Faisal and Maneesh Sharma turn the basic concept on its head by making use of the Celebrity Junior/Senior lore and giving it a relatable flavor. The “junior” is a fan who impersonates the celebrity that he’s crazy about, going as far as earning a livelihood out of the whole shtick. There are competitions that are aimed at honoring the best junior, or as some would say, the best duplicate (of the star).

Gaurav Chandna is the twinkle-eyed youngster, who has a million cutout pictures of his “God” Aryan Khanna, a Bollywood superstar seemingly past his prime. Gaurav isn’t just an admirer of his acting work, he’s a follower of everything that he does, be it an interview from Khanna’s early days, or his latest fight with a contemporary actor. He emulates his mannerisms, and even his charm off screen. Just like his God, Gaurav also does this only on the stage in talent contests. In his routine life, he’s just another ordinary Delhi boy. He can’t get good grades in college, he can’t woo a girl he has feelings for, quite unlike Aryan’s on-screen persona which he seems to imbibe and worship.

After winning the local talent hunt contest for the bazillionth time, he decides to gift his trophy to Khanna on his birthday in Mumbai. Gaurav is a likeable character with his chirpy demeanor and a permanent joie de vivre; the obsessive layers underneath start to unravel when he does a mini life-threatening stunt while insisting to travel ticketless on the train to Mumbai, just because that is how Khanna began his career. Some of what he does is sweet, even endearing. This enjoyable universe becomes darker when Gaurav doesn’t know where to draw a line between being a good one-sided lover and a lover who feels wronged when his attraction isn’t reciprocated.

Fan provides a constant parallel commentary on the over-interfering and overbearing interest in a celebrity’s life, and the plastic psyche of a star who would go to any lengths to be liked by everyone in the world. One of the film’s most masterful moments is when Gaurav mocks Aryan for repeatedly attributing all his success to his fans, and then later in a press conference Aryan pulls back on his urge to repeat the same favorite cliche. Amongst many firsts that the film manages to achieve, it also becomes one of the only films to be shot at Madame Tussauds in London. The whole sequence in the wax museum is a little exaggerated to be easily believed in, but it has a hilarious millisecond frame of a Salman Khan wax model standing spectator to a situation which could have easily done with some vigilance by an action hero of any kind.

While that’s just a first in aesthetic vanity or marketing, the most commendable first is Shah Rukh Khan’s casting as the 20-something super-fan and the 50-something super-star. Of course, he’s wearing prosthetic makeup and his face is 3D scanned, but the man underneath is the same Khan who has to juggle between an almost autobiographical character and a boy who keeps jumping as if he’s on an invisible trampoline throughout the film. Gaurav is creepy, Aryan is cocky. Gaurav is naive, Aryan is mature. Gaurav is a maniac, Aryan is an unflinching douchebag. There’s so much of Aryan Khanna that rings close to Khan’s career trajectory and the controversies that he’s found himself in.

A violent bust up with a coworker? Check. Being unabashed about dancing at high-budget weddings? Check. Being detained in a foreign country? Check.

Again, the always heartwarming story of him finding stupendous success in a city where he arrived as a vagrant is also inimitable. The stardom of Shah Rukh Khan makes this film greater than it is. The screenplay is too far-fetched at times, and it even tugs at your patience with the number of chase sequences between different sets of characters, and an always predictable outcome. The last act is also not without its flaws, where the fan is always just too smart for his own good. Much of this is compensated by the deft casting of Deepika Amin and Yogendra Tiku as Gaurav’s affable parents, and Waluscha De Sousa as the glamorous star-wife and Shriya Pilgaonkar as the friendly girl next door.

Fan is an out-and-out Shah Rukh Khan masterclass though, with Maneesh Sharma’s beguiling direction and Manu Anand’s occasionally experimentative cinematography.

My rating: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5)

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Shuddh Desi Romance

Shuddh_Desi_Romance_poster
Shuddh Desi Romance
Release date: September 6, 2013
Directed by: Maneesh Sharma
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Parineeti Chopra, Vaani Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Rajesh Sharma, Tarun Vyas

Romantic liaisons are as much a part of the Indian youth’s ordinary lives as much as the internet or mobile phones. Or the lack of public bathrooms all over India. Hey mom & dad, no, I’m not a part of that youth. Also, this same public denial of being in a relationship with someone, is rooted to a conscious mentality which makes us look down upon couples just holding hands or even sitting next to each other.

And there are few, who aren’t shy of the stares and glares, they are just scared of being restricted to just one person for the rest of their lives; or the ones who don’t deem the wedlock to be the be all and end all. You could fit into in any of the above categories, I know I do. To go slightly overboard, the same Indian women who dote on Barney Stinson/Charlie Harper’s flirtatious television persona, have very contradicting double standards in actuality.

Shuddh Desi Romance puts some of the above apprehensions in a tier-2 city (Jaipur) setting with its characters desperately trying to break out of their cultural and traditional limits. Raghuram (Sushant Singh Rajput) is running away from a lot of things: his name, his relationship status, and a fixed job. Gayatri (Parineeti Chopra) is independent, speaks out her mind and has trust issues. Tara (Vaani Kapoor) has compromised on her ambitions to get “settled” into a familial discourse.

The three protagonists here depict common dilemmas faced by a major chunk of youngsters all over. It is the same emphasis on the title characters more than the plot that creates interesting dynamics in the otherwise overused love triangle format. Both Raghuram and Gayatri work with Goyal (Rishi Kapoor) and pose as guests at lavish weddings. Thus focusing on the inherent hollowness of grand Indian weddings.

As the emotional conflicts are takeoffs from our ordinary circumstances and so are the lines, Gayatri’s simple “Kya hai?”, Raghuram’s flirtatious “I don’t mind.” and Tara’s relieving “Ek thanda dena” prove to be gems in a situational context. The three have their own defense mechanisms, their own comfort zones and their own vulnerabilities.

SDR doesn’t thrive on being preachy in its conclusion, unlike its promotional posters. Perhaps the film lags in the second half in comparison to the first, but the charm and wit never runs out. Even when an incident of unfaithfulness is encountered, they simply talk it out in a closed room.

There aren’t much stock roles, and that works to the strength of the film. Chopra stands out amongst the lot in her performance, her composure, her grit are both captivating. Rajput is disarming and yet naive at the right moments. The two Kapoors (Not biologically or lawfully related to each other. Yet.) are good foils to the dominating presence of Rajput and Chopra.

More importantly, will Shuddh Desi Romance, with all its favoritism towards live-in relationships, cast a spell on your commitment-obsessed girlfriend or your parents who are insisting you to get married? It may. Or it may not. And that is the whole point here, the makers gradually shift the spotlight from the characters to a basic storyline at the end. It becomes about how two like-minded commitment phobics can mutually coexist.

For me, SDR is an extremely likeable film with a balance of realism and introspection. Extra points for the fresh music score.

My rating: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5)

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