Why there is a Fan in all of us

Like SRK's Gaurav Chandna, are we empty, hollow souls seeking validation?

 |  3-minute read |   21-04-2016
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After the disastrous debacle of Dilwale, Shah Rukh Khan has bounced back with the fantastic fantasy Fan.

Though flawed, imperfect and fraught with inconsistencies, Fan has proved two things: That Shah Rukh Khan can act and that Maneesh Sharma is a big fan.

Fan the movie is in essence a fan letter to Khan from Sharma. It documents the triumphant rise of SRK as a larger than life star and it reminds us that apart from being the commercial entertainer, he can act.

690fan-srk-fan_042116100443.jpg Does the fault lie in us or in them?

Both of which, Sharma set out to prove and even with his storyline, for which he liberally borrowed from about six different Hollywood movies, he succeeded.

The plot of Fan has been much discussed and everyone knows it’s about a fan who is obsessed with a Bollywood star and SRK plays both roles.

It was a risky, gutsy film for the Indian film industry with its usual trashy fare of item “numbers” and violence. This wasn’t about box office figures but I am sure SRK will rake in the crores.

But this dark and heavy thriller does raise questions about fans and public figures. And about ordinary people.

I wonder: do we all have a bit of Gaurav in us? Are we all a little naïve when we evaluate people? Do we all just see what we want to see in other people? Believe what we want to?

Gaurav was an extreme case but every day, this drama of building up and tearing people plays out in various ways.

In India, it’s culturally, traditionally, quintessentially and uniquely acceptable to elevate public figures to being God like. And if they dare to be human, we tear them down ruthlessly, relentlessly and rashly.

A few days ago, Amitabh Bachchan was just that God. He has just sung the national anthem at a cricket match, which made people get the goosebumps. He was the best of India, they screeched, squealed and screamed at the top of their lungs. Bachchan for President began trending on social media.

In the next news cycle, the Panama Papers story broke. Suddenly, he was a “sham,” he was “unpatriotic” and he was scorned, mocked and attacked. He released a statement and while some are appeased and others remain doubtful. How quickly everyone forgot his achievements and contributions to the country.

Politicians. Actors. Sports athletes. Public figures. Personal contacts. We perceive them to be something they are not and when they turn out to be something else, we say we were fooled, cheated, betrayed, back stabbed or manipulated.

But does the fault lie in us or in them?

I look back at my career in journalism and I am besieged by the stories I have covered. The family of a man who accused his wife of murdering him, the story of honest, hard-working people who fell prey to a con artist’s Ponzi scheme or the voters who felt betrayed by the candidate who broke all his promises after he took office. Or the Catholic priest who molested those he was supposed to protect.

People believe in those in positions of authority and power. They want to look up to somebody, they want to be inspired and they want to be blown away. They want to entrust them with love and trust. They want them to be a part of their lives.

It’s the ideal happy ending when they reciprocate in some way. They notice, they comment or they become the “friend” to their “fan.”

But if they don’t and if someone breaks like Gaurav does, what does it mean? That we are foolish to feel what we felt for that person? Or that we are empty, hollow souls seeking validation? That we are too weak to find joy in our lives? In our own dreams?

I don’t have the answers.

Writer

Sonia Chopra Sonia Chopra @soniachopra28

The writer is a freelance journalist based in Ohio. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, New York Newsday, The Orlando Sentinel, Salon.com, Rediff,com, India Abroad, Indian Express, Firstpost.com, and The Quint.

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