Dir : Maneesh Sharma Year: 2016
A few minutes into Gaurav Chandna and I had lost interest in the film never to be re-engaged again. Both the writer and Shahrukh as an actor have failed with Gaurav big time. We see Gaurav Chandna, the crazy fan of the superstar Aryan Khanna, mimic Aryan Khanna in the local colony function and win a trophy along with cash prize of Rs.20,000/. Fair enough. The problem is Shahrukh’s portrayal of Guarav is more like a mimicry rather than acting. He walks, talks and behaves like a cross between a psychopath and a mental retard. Unfortunately, the writers too invest the character with equal amount of superficiality and absurdity forgetting to create a credible human being. We get it that he is a crazy fan of Aryan Khanna and he wants to go and meet him in Mumbai. But going ticketless just because Aryan had gone ticketless on his first trip to Mumbai to become an actor? Is I worth taking the risk? He could have easily bough an unreserved ticket. His father could have asked, “Beta, how will you go all the way to Mumbai without a reserved berth? “ He could have replied, “But papa, do you know when Aryan Khanna went to Mumbai from Delhi he went WT. At least I have an unreserved ticket!” Then he could have some sort of adventure in the general compartment. The drama we see now with TTE in the film takes the film to an Over-The-Top territory from the word go. The result. We never buy in to the character of Gaurav. It only becomes worse as he starts interacting with his idol. Aryan Khanna’s action in getting Gaurav beaten up by the police this far? Just so that Gaurav can have a reason for seeking revenge and the film can have some kind of a plot line?
Things get even more preposterous after the interval when Guarav lands up at Madame Tussauds pretending to be Aryan Khanna. All logic or credibility of behaviour gets thrown to the winds. All tis while , either when he is at the gates of the star’s bungalow, or when the rival star meets Gaurav, or when Aryan Khanna meets his fan for the first time; no one remarks, ‘ Hey you look so much like Aryan himself! And he must be 25 while the star in his 40’s. Yet he has no problem in passing off as Aryan Khanna even for people looking at him from close quarters. He even talks sharp English like Aryan Khanna. And what about Aryan Khanna? What is he doing running across terraces, swinging from ropes, and vrooming on motorbikes, chasing Gaurav? Slapping a costar in a party is one thing. Fighting like James Bond another. Don’t we know it is the job of stuntmen in films, and of star’s security men in real life, but never, never the job of actual stars? And what’s worse, the whole exploration of the relationship between a star and his devoted fan gets thrown to the wind. What we get instead is a caper involving a lookalike.
The film, in fact suffers from a deep identity crisis. What does it want to be? An exploration of the relationship between a star and his devoted fan? A Dhoom 2 like caper where a con man tries to ouwit the hero with a series of clever tricks and disguises? Ora meta film on the phenomenon of a star called Shahrukh Khan?
Sure, Sharukh as Aryan Khanna gives a more controlled and nuanced performance. But even here the writing undoes any impact the character might have had on us. “ You can come to my house and I can’t come to yours?” Aryan Khanna challenges Gaurav over the phone at one time. The plain fact is, No. Neither can Gaurav enter your house, nor can you enter his. Your worlds are different. So the entire climax becomes an exercise in juvenility without any emotional heft. Also the performance of Shahrukh as Aryan Khanna would have added up to something if the character wasn’t modelled on himself, and let’s say he was playing someone modelled on Rajesh Khanna or Amitabh Bachchan. Now that even the fan is played by Shahrukh himself, with his later acts ( where he smashes things at Aryans; house) being a reprise of all his obsessive persona in films like Darr and Anjaam, you throw up your hands and say, “Please spare us. There is only so much Shahrukh we can take. You are not THAT interesting you know!”
It could have worked tad better if the whole film wasn’t staged so somberly, without a touch of humour or lightness of touch. The makers only had to look at only a film like Rangeela or the Amitabh segment of Bombay Talkies to seat what key such stories can be told. Right now there is not a single scene that brings a smile to your lips, or a tear to your eyes. The atmosphere of the entire film is kind of oppressive and mind-numbing with its excesses. As to any kind of cerebral pleasure, forget it. You might find that your brain has gone to sleep ( that is if you haven’t) by the time the film ends.
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