FAN: Rise of an actor, fall of a producer

Our theaters have been running quite a few good films over the weeks. After somehow managing my time through this tenous semester schedule, I stepped out for some movie time.

We have two options this weekend- Disney’s live action The Jungle Book, which has (understandably) made a huge wave over here. And SRK’s FAN, which inspite of good reviews, is surprisingly just faring average at the box office.

I chose the latter. Here’s why-

a) I am a sucker for Bollywood.

b) I love to see any of our Khans sweating out for good content.

And more importantly,

c) I really wanted to know why is this comeback of a film not getting the numbers.

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And I got the answer. FAN wasn’t definitely the typical commercial film that he has made over the years. But nor is it a genuinely dark and edgy film to delight the cinephiles. It wants to ground itself into reality but just can’t resist itself to cross the line and become a fantasy.

Which results in a film that fails to achieve all that it should. Can a small town boy like Gaurav be so smart enough that he successfully brings down a star as big as Aryan Khanna? Will a person like Aryan really be so helpless over one kid? And is it so easy to outsmart the London police?

It is loopholes like these that disconnects us from the emotion that either of the two go through and also from the thrill that those action sequences should have given. It leaves the audience with a confusing mindset. There’s no reason to hate the film, but no one would try to find a reason to love it.

neerja_1452334843_725x725PK-vs-Bajrangi-Bhaijaan

Every Bollywood film with a big lead actor that has gone out of its comforting narrative zone gave one major reason for audiences to flock to theaters. Salman’s heart-warming Bajrangi Bhaijaan infused comedy and pressed strong emotional buttons while putting across a valid message. Aamir’s PK, wrapped with a suspenseful plot, also worked for Raju Hirani’s trademark of a layered script. And this year itself, Akshay’s Airlift and Sonam’s Neerja strived to keep the drama down but also made the audience feel a sense of pride in these real-life stories. All of these films made a golden run at the box office.

Here, the big lead actor was himself the major attraction. Shah Rukh brought such diversity and nuance to both these characters that could shut even his harshest critic. But the screenplay by Habib Faisal faultered more as the film proceeded, which was supposed to be its strongest point given that none of the usual SRK tropes were present.

Maybe that was the major reason. The fans of the superstar don’t want him to make a film for them. Nor do they want him to just act. They want the SRK pose, exotic locations, romantic track and the high wattage smile. Which is very sad to know. Not that anyone expected an all-time highest collections. But it should have at least recovered its budget. The film has cost YRF and Red Chillies a whooping 105 Cr. and the domestic figures as of now is just over 70 Cr. The declining per day collections is a very bad sign too. More pity is the fact that The Jungle Book has a better per day collection in its second week than FAN.

I am making these observations not by just one film. The times where Shah Rukh Khan has taken risks- as a war-torn lover in Dil Se, an NRI in Swades, or as a disgraced coach in Chak De! India, audiences haven’t been very receptive. No one can blame then, when he makes a Dilwale even in today’s times.

But let’s not lose hope. His next Raees hits theater this Eid and that seems interesting too. And after that there is the Gauri Shinde film, opposite Alia Bhatt which would also promise something new.

Whatever it is SRK, please don’t call Rohit or Farah for your next film. Your acting talent is really as huge as your superstar stature. Please use them well. 

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