Driving Licence Review (No SPOILERS): Shahrukh’s Fan, But in Kerala and With Prithviraj

As expected, I did way too much and by the end of the day was having a very hard time staying awake since I am ever so slightly sick. I just barely managed to make it through to the end of this film without falling asleep, but it was worth it (I think).

This is a movie in which Prithviraj plays himself. But it’s not a movie for Prithviraj fans. It’s a movie for people who are fascinated by the functions of stardom and fandom, and the Indian film industries. So, ME!

Image result for driving licence malayalam movie

The characters are good, the plot is decent, but really it all revolves around central questions of stardom, fandom, society, the industry as a community, stuff like that. I would say it is very niche, except that film fandom is SUCH a big thing in India, that discussing star power and so on isn’t niche at all, but rather an obsession of the whole society.

Prithviraj plays himself, but also plays a role. In the way that “himself” is a role in reality. There is “Prithviraj the angry star”, “Prithviraj the considering man of power”, “Prithviraj the charming public movie star”, and “Prithviraj the real human person”. Those first 3 are familiar roles for Prithviraj in reality, every movie star has to be angry, practical and powerful, and charming in places that are public. The 4th is the Prithviraj we, the public, never see. And I certainly don’t think he is going to reveal his “real” self just for this little movie. So that 4th Prithviraj is the one where he is fully “acting”. He does a good job with his few scenes as a “real” person, nicely differentiating them from the public version of himself he shows everyone else.

The other actors have an easier job since they are just playing roles like normal. Suraj Vasudevan plays an every man police officer, Miya George plays the typical nagging wife. Saiju Karap plays the typical humorous ambitious young politician. They do a good job with what they are given. Suraj does slightly better than good job with his role, which is what I expect, he is one of those character actors where I sit up and take notice as soon as I see his face. Miya George suffers the most, the scriptwriter really did not break a sweat with her character beyond “nagging wife”.

Miya George still got to have more fun than Deepti Sati who plays “saintly wife”. BORING!!!! And that’s the extent of the female characters in this film, the nag and the wife. Not great. But also, really interesting in a movie about fandom. This is a world were fandom and film acting is about male relationships. Male media, male producers, male movie stars, male fan clubs.

And then there’s the obvious comment I need to make, especially knowing the likely background of my readers. This is Fan, Shahrukh’s Fan, but slightly different. It’s not a rip off or anything like that, just that it deals with the same question of the fan-star relationship and how hard it can be for each of them to see each other as people rather than as what they need from each other. And Prithviraj deals with the same acting challenge, playing himself-but-not-himself in most scenes, and something totally different in the private scenes. But without the added complication of actually playing his own fan.

There’s also some differences, which are fascinating, but I will get into those more in the SPOILERS review!

15 thoughts on “Driving Licence Review (No SPOILERS): Shahrukh’s Fan, But in Kerala and With Prithviraj

    • Nope, it’s not a Popka movie. Have you watched many Malayalam films? They tend to be very low key and realistic, with occasional touches of magical realism. Obviously you contain multitudes and can enjoy many different varieties of movies, but they are definitely NOT Govinda-esque. This is a pretty decent film, but not an all time “anyone in the world would enjoy this” kind of film, so I’m not gonna recommend it to you.

      I do have an incredibly Lesbian Tamil film for you though! Snegithiye, two best friends from college who run off together because they don’t want to get married to yucky BOYS.

      On Sun, Jan 5, 2020 at 3:04 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I haven’t because I can never find an entry point. I can only handle very specific types of highly realistic very deep movie. I do love magical realism though, are there any with lots of that?

        Thank you for the lesbian Tamil movie, that looks great!

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        • Amen and Double Barrel would be my picks for the most over the top magical realism Malayalam films. Both from the same director, nothing really super gay in either film, but really crazy images. Here’s a song from Amen:

          On Sun, Jan 5, 2020 at 1:50 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I am a fan of the scriptwriter of this film (sachy).. He is the best now in writing entertaining masala films but very underrated… he completed the script of this films in 2012 long before ‘fan’ and wanted Mammootty to play the star role and prithvi to the fan role, but Mammootty didn’t say yes and hence the films was postponed untill prithvi decided to do the star role.

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        • Oh yeah, I don’t think it was in imitation of Fan, any more than a film about someone dying is an imitation of Anand. Fan-star relationship is a universal theme.

          And yes, the script was the best part! The directing was workmanlike but nothing special, but the script is what made it work.

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