The Story of How FAN Director Maneesh Sharma’s Dream Came True  

Maneesh Sharma wanted to see his name on a film poster with Shah Rukh Khan and Aditya Chopra. Dreams do come true!

Updated
Entertainment
4 min read
<i>FAN</i>: Film poster

For a filmmaker, it must be a dream to make a film with Shah Rukh Khan as the lead actor, and Yashraj Films, one of the biggest banners in the Hindi film industry as the producer. FAN director Maneesh Sharma says this is just what he wanted,

It was my dream. I wanted to work in Bollywood, I wanted to make movies and I wanted to see a poster, which would say starring Shah Rukh Khan, Produced by Aditya Chopra and directed by Maneesh Sharma. The poster of Fan is my dream that’s come true!
Maneesh Sharma, Filmmaker
Maneesh Sharma doing what he loves (Photo: YRF)
Maneesh Sharma doing what he loves (Photo: YRF)

Maneesh didn’t get his dream served to him on a platter. But luckily he also didn’t run from pillar to post to make it come true. In 2004, when he was graduating from a film school in LA, all he had was an idea that he wanted to share with Bollywood’s biggest star, Shah Rukh Khan. Somehow he managed to get in touch with Shah Rukh’s spot boy, who connected Maneesh with the superstar.

When you are doing a film course abroad, you have a lot of ideas and you feel it’s so easy, and that everything will be waiting for you when you finish your course. But it’s nothing like that. I connected with SRK through his spot boy and he said he will meet me when I come to Mumbai.
Maneesh Sharma

When Maneesh arrived in Mumbai in 2004, he fixed an appointment with king Khan and was greeted by the regular big crowd outside his Bandra residence. As he pushed his way to the main gate and told the watchman about his appointment, he got the same response that the crowd behind him was getting- “saab ghar pe nahi hain !”

He had SRK’s mobile number, so he texted to let him know that he’s waiting outside Mannat’s main gate and can’t get in. After some panic and waiting, Maneesh got a reply from Shah Rukh saying he’s running late on the sets of Yash Chopra’s Veer Zara, and that he’ll be there soon. Finally, when the superstar’s car approached the main gate, the crowd went nuts. Fans were screaming with excitement and everyone was trying to get just one glimpse of him. Shah Rukh asked his security to let a guy named Maneesh Sharma in, and that was the first time he saw Shah Rukh Khan.

It was like a dream come true to see him, specially if you are the only one allowed to enter the gates when hundreds of people are waiting outside.
Maneesh Sharma
Shah Rukh Khan greeting fans outside <i>Mannat</i> (Photo: YRF)
Shah Rukh Khan greeting fans outside Mannat (Photo: YRF)

What came out of their meeting was Maneesh’s realisation that if he wanted to make movies here, he would first have to learnt the tricks of the trade by training as an Assistant Director.

I was also clear about one thing, that if I have to assist I would like to assist in the best banner, which is YRF.
Maneesh Sharma

Around that time Kunal Kohli was about to start working on Fanaa (2006) with Aamir Khan and Kajol, and was busy putting a team together. Maneesh got in touch and landed an opportunity to assist him on Fanaa. He went on to assisting Aditya Chopra on Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008) starring Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma. He began feeling that was standing pretty close to his own dream, and that’s when he got the idea for FAN. In fact he narrated it to Adi Chopra, who liked the premise but told Maneesh that it couldn’t possibly be his debut film. Adi thought that FAN was a hugely ambitious project, which needed an experienced director. Despite his apprehensions, what Adi did for Maneesh is something quite rare. He didn’t buy out the story and hand it over to an experienced director to make. Instead, he made sure that Maneesh makes films with YRF and gains the required experience. The dedicated assistant turned director with Band Baaja Baraat (2010). His debut film was a super hit. He went on to directing Ladies vs Ricky Bahl (2011), which tanked at the box office. Finally Adi was ready to green light FAN and Maneesh Sharma got his dream poster. It reads ‘FAN starring Shah Rukh Khan, produced by Aditya Chopra, directed by Maneesh Sharma.’

<i>FAN</i>: Film poster
FAN: Film poster

Now that his dream project is about to hit theatres, here’s how he looks back at getting to work with the man he’s a fan of,

Shah Rukh is the best team player and the best creative collaborator. He is always more interested in knowing how a director is looking at a film.
Maneesh Sharma

Incidentally, FAN was not the idea that Maneesh had met SRK at Mannat for. In fact, it was something he saw outside and wanted to incorporate in a film. That’s where FAN was born.

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