Fans can be crazy, and how.
From gleefully collecting, and pasting photo-collages of their heroes/heroines on their walls to writing fan mails in their own blood, to getting their stars (names and, even faces) tattooed on themselves, they come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and temperaments. While most fans gleefully surrender to an obscure life, away from the spotlight, there are a few, who will taunt, tease and torture till their adoration is validated.
Gaurav Chandna belongs to that rare breed, where rejection takes a far more sinister tone.
So, we watch director Manish Sharma superbly stack up Gaurav's moves before he finally meets his big hero Aryan Khanna. His journey is deeply endearing, and we can't but help cheer him and his doting parents, as they delightfully make a world out of a moviestar. Their happiness, however is short-lived. Then begins the journey of a wounded fan, whose devotion turns into a dangerous obsession. And, him being his hero's doppelgänger just makes the revenge doubly menacing.
The tale, written by Habib Faisal, is intriguing even if appears heavily inspired by a certain Hollywood movie of the same title, but it's stretched out to clock 150-minutes of screen time. A movie without songs is definitely refreshing, but one that would've been shorter on the edit table would've helped retain the pitch.
What the editor lacks, Manish attempts to make-up. He scores immensely for chronicling Gaurav's life in Delhi. Whether it's his room that doubles as a strange museum of Aryan Khanna, or his cyber cafe business which (also) reflects his obsession, or his infamous annual act on stage, where his mimicry is (always) rewarded with applause and awards, it's a charmingly delightful world. One part where Gaurav is pushed away by another SRK doppelgänger is outstanding, and cleverly captures the banality. Or when an Indian-born cop asks Aryan for a selfie, just seconds after he's booked reflects how star-struck we are.
There's very little of Shah Rukh's influence on Gaurav, and that's refreshingly remarkable on the actor's and director's part. A masterstroke for an actor, who had almost forgotten to challenge himself. While the twisted facial features and thin body frame helped him to tackle Gaurav, Shah Rukh flaunts his acting chops when he shifts personalities without trouble. A moment when he turns into Aryan while locked down in a deep dark cell, just to remind his star of his worth is a class-act. Or, when he gleefully screams out his love for Aryan as the star blindly waves out to the crowd is spectacular.
Manish, however, packs some highly dramatic set-pieces, ruining a narrative that otherwise remains fairly grounded. Gaurav's moves are strangely lame, possibly keeping in mind his small-town framework or lack of exposure of stuff far more contrived, but the repercussions are far more impactful. Surely making the actor and his fan indulge in some heavy-duty action sticks out like a sore thumb. Surely, we know actors perform stunts, and aren't superheroes themselves. You'd expect Aryan to hire some super-cool guys to throw the punches, instead you see him do Kung Fu.
It’s an intriguing journey that Manish Sharma weaves, but one that, unfortunately, doesn’t end well.