FAN which generated quite a buzz almost a year prior to its release, has been received well by the viewers, not just because it stars SRK but because it is one of the best performances of the actor till date as he has outdone himself as an actor. In an interview with BOI, Shah Rukh Khan talks about his latest movie FAN and the challenges of playing the idoliser and the idolised.
What, according to you, is the genre of FAN?
I think it’s an emotional thriller.
Is this the first time you’ve attempted an emotional thriller?
No, Darr was a love story and a thriller. But this kind of genre… it’s the emotional journey of a person who wants to meet his star, which then turns into a thriller and then comes back to emotion. So yeah…
This is also romance of a different kind, right? Fans do love their stars.
According to me, it is romance. It’s the love story of someone who loves you from very far, loves you unconditionally and without knowing or expecting anything. Otherwise you expect something in all other relationships, like husband-wife… Stuff like Saturday ko chhuti lena, or be nice to mother, or saara family khaana ek saath khayega. So love has conditions. ‘You have to be with me’; ‘We have to meet once a month even if you are outdoors.’ But, here, there are no conditions. A person loves you and loves you unconditionally, so maybe that’s why they forget that it’s one-sided love, they love you so much. They don’t know you but woh aapki izzat karta hai, respect karta hai, yeh bhi maanta hai ki aap usko pyaar karte hai. But he doesn’t know you. And you don’t know that person. I think being known as a ‘romantic hero’ people assume that I only romance a heroine. I try to romance the audience. Sometimes I choose not to do a character when I feel I should not make people love them because they are not good people. In this case, Gaurav is a very good person. So is Aryan. And you have to make people fall in love with both of them, without picking sides, who’s good and who’s bad.
The presentation and the way this film has been written are unusual. Apart from that, you’ve played this kind of role before. Why are people saying that with this film, SRK is reinventing himself?
People have their own opinions about what a star is doing, from the outside. That’s exactly like Gaurav, who has an opinion about Aryan Khanna. People have opinions and they expect their opinions to be followed. As a character, I feel the film is a little more in the ‘real’ space although the story is imaginative. Maneesh (Sharma) himself does films in the real, middle-class space. I think, this time, he has extended himself. The story of Aryan Khanna is in the real space, the movie star’s personal life, not the flamboyance or his exterior life. It is a different way to treat a love story. Even though I have played double roles before, I have not really ventured into such a double role. This is very different because the idea is that one should very clearly feel that they are two different people, dono alag hai. I think that will be the victory of the film.
What was so special about the concept that it stayed with you for four years?
It’s one of those concepts you will remember whenever someone narrates a story like this. For an actor to play a double role, you will remember someone who offers that to you. But a double role should not be a ‘double role’. I had to play a 25-year-old and 50-year-old in the same frame. I didn’t know how that was possible but now, having done it, it was difficult but not impossible. We reached the point where people think it’s not the same hero. People ask me, ‘Woh doosra ladka kaun hai?’ I think that’s quite nice, that we got that kind of feel.
Was it easy playing Gaurav because you’ve done theatre?
Technically, it’s very difficult because of the make-up and VFX. You have to have a certain amount of experience doing double roles to do this one. Physically, there was only one challenge because I was hurt throughout the shooting. Since my knee was injured, all the action, dancing and running was difficult. I think the theatre training really helps, the body language, losing weight, the walk. Also it helps that Maneesh and I are from Delhi, so the language was easy. Having said that, most of the input Maneesh had was very clear. He had lived with it for so long that he had an interesting idea of how the mind of Gaurav and his lines should be. I think he had written it for so long that he knew each nuance and dialogue. But, yeah, as an actor, it was very challenging and interesting. The make-up used to take very long.
Was it easy to play Aryan, since you are playing yourself?
No, Aryan was more difficult. People will mistake him for Shah Rukh Khan but he is not Shah Rukh Khan. Aryan is a little more responsible, strict, and his sense of humour isn’t as good as mine. He’s a little more real. He’s a different kind of family man. Also, he’s someone who has come from Delhi but is very attached to what he has achieved, very different from me. For me, the more difficult role is Aryan Khanna’s. The issue with Aryan is I should make sure he’s dignified. It should not look like he’s the bad guy or Gaurav is the bad guy. Both of them have to look like normal people. So Aryan was very difficult for me to play, because you have to save him from being arrogant or a bad person. People watch the trailer and think he’s arrogant, which he’s not. He’s reacting to a situation like any normal person would. And there’s no showing him shooting, or trying to show him as a star, which I am. So it’s not like I can say, ‘Aisa hoga, crowd hoga.’ Except for that one scene, which was shot on my birthday and was a real shot. Apart from that, the rest is his private life.
Did you give any input to Maneesh while he was writing Aryan’s character?
Actually, no. Adi and Maneesh were very clear because they were using my archival footage and my stardom to establish that Aryan was a star, without actually saying it. We didn’t have to establish this by showing a song, him shooting, nothing. But as soon as I am cast, you can show the rise of a star and say Shah Rukh Khan. You accept that. But they were very clear that they wouldn’t take any personal moments from my life because it’s too close to the truth, whether it is my children, my wife or my sister. They didn’t want to have any exposure, except for my house. We took my house because there’s no other house for a crowd to come, Madh Island mein bhi nahi hai, so that was out of convenience. But it was not meant to make things awkward that I was expressing my personal world to the outside world. Aryan Khanna, Shah Rukh Khan nahi hai. My fans, who come to see the film, should not assume that he is the real me, just as they don’t assume this in many films. There’s little stuff like Aryan playing video games with his kid, but they were very clear they didn’t want an input on how I would behave and I didn’t have to give any inputs as nothing was taken from my personal life. I have given more retakes as Aryan Khanna. For example, how would he get angry? I have a different way of getting angry. He’s more mature. Maneesh had studied me so closely as a star and as a person that he’s got a laptop full of stuff on me. Sometimes, he would say, ‘Ki sir, aapne yeh line boli thi uss interview mein.’ They have hundreds of photos and videos and interviews as research.
Playing a fan and working with a fan, that is Maneesh, who came to Bombay with the dream to direct you. What was that like?
Maneesh is a very fine filmmaker. He’s got a different take. I’ve worked with him in RNBDJ, known him for some time, and spent some time with him. He’s from Delhi too, so maybe there’s that relationship. Somewhere down the line, he’s really not a fan; he just wanted to make a film with me. There are people like Jaideep (Sahni), Maneesh and four or five other directors I know who felt that Shah Rukh Khan Dilli se chala gaya, hum bhi jaa sakte hai. He wanted to be a film-maker, he took a scholarship, and went to Cal Arts. Parents usually don’t know how films are made. We went to the same college, he tried to find a path where he could do the same things and come to Mumbai and be a filmmaker. He called me up and said, “Mein aa raha hoon picture banane ko aapke saath.’ I said, ‘Aa jao,’ I encouraged him.
How happy are you with the final product?
Everyone’s seen it now. The marketing unit saw it yesterday. We’ve seen it at a technical level in case we want to cut out some stuff, we did the grading and all. It’s looking nice. When you make a film, it usually turns out to be either better or worse than you hoped. But this is exactly the film we set out to make. It was meant to be a very special film. There will be a lot of questions raised, ke gaane nahi hai… Commerce ke liye woh zaroori hota hai… SRK ka yeh scene hona padega… But we were very clear ke uss se hatenge nahi, so much so that ki Jabra hit bhi ho gaya magar picture mein nahi hai. When we started making the film, we had a certain idea and it’s turned out to be exactly like that. We thought it would be a two-hour, 20-minute film, but the actual run-time is two hours, 13 minutes, plus five minutes of credits. But we are more or less where we thought we would be
with the film.