Academic journal article Framework

Embodiment and Stardom in Shahrukh Khan's Fan

Academic journal article Framework

Embodiment and Stardom in Shahrukh Khan's Fan

Article excerpt

Fan belongs in the familiar genre of films about obsessive fans, ranging from the naive to the deranged, but it ends up defamiliarizing both the genre of such films and the star Shahrukh Khan, first by having the star play both fan and star, and second by both extending and playing against the actor's current star persona as developed over the past two decades in a number of media sites. Dispersed across media and live platforms, contemporary arenas for star and fan interaction, in the case of Shahrukh Khan, range from twitter to sightings "in the flesh" in front of his house, which the film also incorporates. Although at one level the film might be considered a narcissistic take on his own stardom by a transnational media icon who cannot bring himself to share the screen with another actor playing the fan, the choice of performing the fan here upends this genre while also playing into Indian cinema's longstanding fascination with double roles. While the dual and multiple role film has been a staple of Indian popular cinema since the 1920s, and doubling has been a significant element in Shahrukh Khan's own filmography, in Fan the double role, and thus its sameness/difference dynamic, in itself constitutes an essential element in the film's argument about the relationship of stars and fans in the context of the contemporary intensification oflong-standing paradoxes of intimacy/distance, presence/absence, and access/inaccessibility that have always characterized the star-fan relationship. In playing a star who has significant differences from Shahrukh Khan, the film can arguably be understood as a triplerole film, including first, Gaurav Chandna, the fan; second, Aryan Khanna, the fictional star (who is given the real star's son's name and is thus his creative child); and third, footage of Shahrukh Khan himself in various film roles and interviews.

In Fan, doubling does not function as in pre-Bollywood films, to showcase the star's acting range in negative roles while safeguarding his stable star persona,1 but rather as a gateway to a proliferation, not just a doubling, of the star body, while detaching it almost completely from Shahrukh Khan's current star persona and returning it to the persona of his earliest film roles. Here, the double role serves to work out the central idea in the film of the mutual constitution of star and fan, which is articulated several times in the words and actions of the obsessed fan, Gaurav Chandna, who quotes, or rather, re-performs Aryan Khanna saying, "Whatever I have done today is because of my fans. Without my fans I am nothing." Re-stated as a threat, this sentiment is what the fan and the film then proceed to act out. But the threat of fan practices that go beyond the acceptable is also the subject of the film in other ways, having more to do with control over the star's image across an ever-proliferating mediascape. My argument here concerns three closely interrelated dynamics that apply to both Fan and to contemporary modes of star- and fandom, especially in India. These are not really oppositions but work together as a range. The first dynamic is the relation between "fake" and "real" star/fan, with a greater interest in the fake or the copy or the duplicate2 in its many manifestations, both material and conceptual, and at many levels, including lines of dialogue. The many kinds of fake come together in the Madame Tussauds scene in which the diegetically fake Aryan Khanna manhandles the materially fake wax version of Shahrukh Khan standing in for Aryan Khanna, while berating his wax version about his fakeness in a rant that is clearly directed at the diegetic star's fake persona. This scene materially and performatively draws attention to the copy, the fake, and the double in ways that stress the impossibility of seeking the real here. In a context like this, there is seemingly a distinction to be made between the real and the fake, with the wax statue, for example, clearly not the same as the real star performing here. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.