5 Epic Hollywood Fan Flicks That Inspired Shah Rukh Khan’s FAN
Obsessive fan films from Hollywood that you should watch before Shah Rukh Khan’s FAN releases
Every film starring Shah Rukh Khan is a case of excitement for his fans. But with his new film FAN, he has managed to electrify the dormant legion of his followers, who have been disappointed by his last few outings. Playing both the star and his fanatical fan, SRK’s double bonanza looks like a throwback to the early years of his career. A meta narrative of his own stardom, this is a film that explores the darker side of obsession in the celebrity culture.
But there have been others too. Here’s looking back at films that explored the FAN idea in different avatars.
The Fan (1996)
In terms of narrative progression, this is one film that looks almost identical to SRK’s FAN. What makes FAN stand apart is that it has Khan playing both the roles, making it more of a concept film, doffing a hat to his fame. The Fan based on the novel of the same name by Peter Abrahams follows Gil ‘Curly’ Renard (Robert De Niro) as a loyal supporter of his pet team, the San Francisco Giants, and especially its ace player Bobby Rayburn (Wesley Snipes). Tony Scott turns it into a genre thriller and De Niro is in fine form, spiralling into the darker side of dedication.
Play Misty For Me (1971)
When Clint Eastwood decided to don the hat of a filmmaker, he chose a subject that looks like a genre exercise. But if you look closely, it had the seed that would impregnate his entire directorial oeuvre - the exercise of image in public and the responsibilities that come attached with it. Eastwood plays a disc jockey who receives incessant requests from an unknown woman to “play Misty” for her. This listener, after a one-night-stand turns out to be a stalker, and all hell breaks loose. Jessica Walter displays cruel finesse in her fixation that one-and-a-half decades later would be perfected by Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. Eastwood works fine as an actor here, but the director side wins hands down, showing all the lessons he has learnt from his predecessors.
The King of Comedy (1982)
Celebrity culture might be in a daunting state now, but Martin Scorsese dealt with it long ago in The King of Comedy, one of the most overlooked films in his opus. The poisonous desire for fame leads Rupert Pupkin, an aspiring comedian to kidnap his idol in order to ensure a TV spot. This film has Robert De Niro in a disturbingly original turn. De Niro studied performers at small standup clubs and the hard work is visible in the film’s biting third act, when we realise that he’s actually of average calibre. Balancing shock and dark humour, this satire offers the American dream with all its sadness and irony.
Caught in a blizzard, famous novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is rendered unconscious and gets rescued by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates). She claims to be his number one fan, and soon the writer realises he’s become a captive of the vile nurse. A tale of unrequited love that soon turns into obsession, this film taps into our primal fears with both the characters in a mind game, one to possess, and the other to become free. Director Rob Reiner turns the Stephen King material into a house of horror, and Kathy Bates, oh my, rightfully won the Oscar for Best Actress for her astonishing manifestation.
All About Eve (1950)
Again, this is a film about a fan and a star, but here the fan succeeds, unlike in the titles mentioned above. Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) is a fan of Margo Channing (Bette Davis), an ageing Broadway star. It tells us how the ambitious Eve wins the star’s trust to move into her inner circle with deceiving earnestness, to finally become her rival clawing everyone’s back. Getting into the very spirit of the art of cinema, it celebrates the flamboyance of the theatre world, but is interested in the quick-witted contempt that goes behind the scenes. Despite the titular role, Eve, the fan is an ingénue, and the film is more invested in Margo at the twilight of her career, caressing her with a stroke of infinite empathy. Davis is both splashy and vulnerable as Margo, painting it with incredible autobiographical flourish. A masterwork.
(The writer is a journalist and a screenwriter who believes in the insanity of words, in print or otherwise. Follow him on Twitter: @RanjibMazumder)
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