Okay, the movie has been out about 72 hours, and I have seen it 3 times. I’m wasting my life! That’s only 7 hours out of 72 that I spent watching it! What is more important? Sleep? Food? Work? That’s crazy talk! Anyway, after 3 viewings, I think I am ready to start my full detailed summary.
The very opening of the movie is mostly just the first trailer, the “Meet Guarav” trailer. There are a few definite differences, the movie includes a clip from Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa and a few interviews. The big thing I noticed was it includes his first FilmFare speech, which he dedicates to his mother. I noticed it particularly because Fan was released on his mother’s death anniversary, so it is kind of sweet that it opens with a clip of him saying “This one’s for you.” (It doesn’t make me super weird that I know April 15th is his mother’s death anniversary, right? He mentioned it on twitter! It’s not like I had that memorized!) Anyway, I’m trying to remember if there is another movie where the first few minutes were just what we saw in the trailer. I think so? I just can’t remember it at the moment.
But I know there are other movies where the first 5 minutes were just a monologue introducing the character. Specifically, every single Aditya Chopra movie! DDLJ started with Amrish Puri’s dialogue. Mohabbetein (sp?) started by introducing Amitabh. And Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi started with Shahrukh’s internal monologue.
I have long suspected that Aditya cuts together all the Yash Raj trailers, just for fun, and this opening is just playing in to my suspicions. As I am sure we all know, it was his trailer for Darr that first revealed his genius and lead Yashji to help him make DDLJ. The “Meet Gaurav” trailer is similarly more about a tone and a theme than plot points. And that, combined with it being the same opening he has used for all his other movies (all 3 of them. Adi! Make more movies!), makes me strongly suspect that he suggested the concept, helped with the editing, and decided to make it the first trailer.
After the trailer, we see an establishing shot of Delhi, which goes back to my previous post about how important it is to know this will be set in Delhi. Then we see a figure from the back walk through a shopping area, clearly first thing in the morning, unlock the slid-y gate door thing in front of his store and lift it up to reveal the inside of a computer cafe. Not a fancy one, a tiny one with only about 6 machines in cheap wooden nooks. And all along the walls and through out the shop are pictures of Shahrukh. Not like artistically placed either, just like they are stuck up in random locations so that, no matter where you are, you can always see his face. Similar to the way you might design an infant’s nursery, so they can always see a photo of their parent, or a soldier might stick pictures of his loved ones on the walls of his tank or the cockpit of his plane, so he can have a bit of comfort with him.
We first see Gaurav-Shahrukh through the glass door of this shop, “AK Cyber Cafe”. It’s a clever way to let us see his face, give us (the audience) time to get used to this Shahrukh-not Shahrukh kind of feeling. First obstructed through a glass door, then with his head turned and angled away from the camera as he moves through the shop, so we see bits and pieces of his face before we get the full frontal effect.
He is moving through the shop trying to get the last costumers, three young men playing video games, to leave. He finally gets them out the door, just as a young woman walks in. She’s pretty, but not “movie” pretty. Nice curly hair, nice make-up, fresh smile, and modest colorful clothing. On my first viewing of this film, I was really impressed with this actress. But the second time around, I realized that actually it was just a matter of her having the perfect big open natural smile. That’s all she does for most of the film, just smiles and is happy and open. Which is important, because Gaurav-Shahrukh feels so uncomfortable in his own skin (and not just because it is all CGI), so we can feel the appeal that someone like her would have for him.
(See! Pretty! But not overwhelming)
She bursts through the door, all smiles the friendly, asking if she can have just 5 minutes on the computer, and then goes ahead and sits down and starts working without waiting for a response. Gaurav-Shahrukh stands all awkwardly, shifting his legs and moving his hands, trying to tell her “no”, but can’t quite manage it.
She finishes with her typing and prints the paper, all within 5 minutes, as promised. And then there is a comment about how she is finishing her paperwork for her American Visa, how she thinks of America like he thinks of Aryan Khanna. Only, America will give her a new world, what will Aryan give Gaurav?
As she leaves and Gaurav tries to close the door, three young men force their way in. Gaurav keeps jumping around, trying to tell them to leave, because he is closing early tonight. He points to the sign he put up on the wall a week ago, that they are closing early tonight because of the local Associations Dussehra festival. The 3 young men claim they can’t read English anyway (this will come up again later in an interesting fashion), and try to sit down at a computer. Shahrukh-Gaurav keeps hopping behind them, flipping off computers, trying to herd them out the door, explaining that he needs to leave for his costume trial for his Aryan act. One of the men stands and says “Why do you even like Aryan Khanna? Sid Kapoor’s the man now!” And that’s when Gaurav starts to fight, not in a calculated way, but in a sort of feral crazed way, forcing them out of the door by using whatever comes to hand. He finally gets all three out, where the crowd is watching, including the pretty neighbor girl. She rushes up, asking why he didn’t call for help? He sort of straightens his head and his skinny little body, all proud, and he tells the girl that he had to do it, because he felt it (I think? I don’t quite remember the set up for this), and then he lifts his head of and cocks his head to the side and declares it was what he had to do because “Dil se!”, in a perfect resonating Shahrukh Khan/Aryan Khanna voice. And then he drops it and goes back into a silly giggle and an awkward Gaurav way of holding himself.
And then we have a beautiful overhead swooping shot into the fairgrounds at night. There’s lights and moving rides and people everywhere. I wonder how they shot this? If they went on location or if they did it somehow on a filmset. We go into the backstage to see Shahrukh-Gaurav’s mother patting at his cheek, trying to cover up the bruises and saying that she will notify the association about it. Meanwhile his father is pulling costumes out of the trunk. This is clearly a very indulgent pair of parents! Also, I am very impressed by how in a close up here you see the bruise under the make-up. Which means bruise make-up on top of a CGI/make-up for his Gaurav face, but underneath the diegetic make-up his mother is powdering on.
And then, the show! He starts to walk out from the make-up room to the stage, shifting his walk into the Shahrukh swagger, as the film slightly slows down. Just as he gets to the curtains, his parents run in from either side to swing the curtains closed, so he can dramatically burst through them, to the cheers of the crowd! He walks out with a slight swagger, then drops it to talk, just as “Gaurav”, first greeting the crowd, yelling at a neighbor by name and telling her to stop checking her phone, his show is about to start! And then he goes into his patter, explaining that Aryan has taught him so much, like how to love! See! And then he goes behind a screen, his father at one side with a camera hooked to a projector and his mother at the mother to throw props at him as he does his act.
(Starting at about 40 seconds in here)
It’s kind of a brilliant act! Both in terms of what this character has come up with, and how the filmmakers decided to do it. For the character, he uses back projection with a few real props and some quick costume changes, to move through a few “famous” lines and scenes from “Aryan Khanna’s” career. But, for the filmmaker, they decided to use famous imagery from Shahrukh’s films, but just change a few small details. For instance, the shot of Gaurav pretending to play a violin while leaves blow on him, clearly a Mohabbatein reference, but the dialogue he is saying is a new made-up line about “You know you are in love when you name the stars after her” or something. In the same way, he puts on a leather jacket against a background of mustard flowers as a his mother wheels a wagon full of fake sunflowers in front of him and he pretends to play a guitar shaped balloon. But, the music cue is not the familiar one from DDLJ, it’s something else.
Gaurav comes back out from behind the screen, and goes back into his patter, all the “Aryan Khanna” dignity gone. He talks about how Aryan is great at love. But he is also a “Delhiwalla”, and sometimes he has to show how “us Delhiwallas” fight. And then he runs off stage, grabs a change of clothes from his parents, urging them to hurry up (a little bit of arrogance showing there), and then does a somersault back behind the screen, to do a fight scene with a line about how “My mother told me never to weigh the food I eat, or count the men I hit!” And he throws in a little Darr style insane laughter while he is at it.
And then it is back out in front as Gaurav, wearing a shiny bright red shirt, clearly two shirts sewn together, one longer in front than the other, giving a wonderful nod to Shahrukh’s old habit of always having one side of his shirt untucked. Gaurav’s patter here is to say that Shahrukh is always dancing with item girls, but why can’t he dance just once with his fan? (Raja Sen thinks this is an indication that Gaurav’s desire for Aryan is at least slightly sexual, and Shahrukh re-tweeted his review, so who knows, maybe he’s right!)
And then we get to see Shahrukh-Gaurav dancing with Shahrukh-Aryan and both Shahrukh’s planning to be someone else. See, the dances in the background look like famous Shahrukh songs, “Chaiyya Chaiyya”, a combination of “Kaal” and “Antenna”, “Tumse Milka” from Main Hoon Na, and “Bole Chudiyaan”. Only, they aren’t quite right. Someone who happens to have watched those songs several thousand times over the past 10 years (like, for instance, me!), will immediately notice the slightly wrong bits. He doesn’t have the awesome Main Hoon Na hair, his red jacket is too tight and textured in “Chaiyya Chaiyya”, and so on. Oh, and he is wearing the wrong outfit in “Dard-E-Disco”, because he does the thumb move while wearing black pants, whereas of course he does it in the actual song when wearing the light ripped jeans (I may have watched that song too many times).
(Or maybe not “Antenna”. Does anyone besides me even remember this song?)
In the middle of this grand finale, the camera pulls back to show the whole fair going on around them, lights shining in the darkness, with the moving colors and lights on the screen at the heart of them all.