Shah Rukh Khan has had a fair share of double roles to his credit – Duplicate, Don, Paheli – but things get interesting in Fan. The April 15 release sees Khan as movie star Aryan, who is stalked by lookalike admirer Gaurav. The thriller has been directed by Maneesh Sharma and is based on a screenplay by Habib Faisal. Fan is a test for all the main players: Khan’s recent releases suggest a waning of his star power; both Sharma and Faisal need to prove themselves after their own flops (Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl and Shuddh Desi Romance and Daawat-e-Ishq respectively); producer Yash Raj Films hasn’t had a serious hit since Gunday (2014). Will two Khans achieve what a single one hasn’t been able to? Excerpts from an interview with Maneesh Sharma.

What is ‘Fan’ saying about stardom and popular Hindi cinema?
The movie is not only about a Bollywood superstar, but about the sentiment of idol worship – the fine line between fan and fanatic. Fan is an emotional thriller, not a psychological one. I am hoping Fan will be a new experience within the commercial Hindi film format.

From whose point of view is the film narrated?
The film explores both points of view. It is about the two characters, Gaurav and Aryan. It is not about Gaurav and Shah Rukh Khan. One has attempted to make the film appetising and in a commercial format but also different. We have taken some risks – you won’t see Shah Rukh singing in the film. In fact, there are no songs at all, not even in the background. The film has to speak for itself.

What is the difference between Shah Rukh Khan and Aryan Khanna?
Gaurav is from Delhi, Aryan is also from Delhi. The journey of Aryan Khanna is based on SRK’s journey. Shah Rukh’s story is fascinating in any case – a middle-class guy who came from Delhi and became a superstar. Since this is the case, why should we let go of footage of SRK? We have used actual footage from his birthday. The film is, in any case, made in a documentary style.

Why has Gaurav been made to look different from Aryan?
I conceived the story with a lookalike. I liked the cinematic idea of a double, but since this is not a doppelganger situation, it adds to the thrill. There is a lot of joy and excitement when the same actor performs two different parts. Gaurav looks somewhat like Aryan, but not quite, and he behaves like a 24-year-old. All these factors have added to the cinematic experience. If I may say so myself, it is an incredible performance.

‘Fan’ comes at a time when Shah Rukh Khan is facing a career slump.
I have always worked with newcomers and actors. The story and its making are more important here. Whether Shah Rukh is on a low or a high wicket should not matter. Every actor goes through phases. Shah Rukh had a few flops behind him before Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. If he is considered as being on a low wicket, I hope Fan becomes that hit for him.

How involved has YRF head Aditya Chopra been with this film?
Adi [Chopra] is very involved with every script, even when it is a ten-pager. He is a creative director in the true sense of the word.

The prosthetics by Greg Cannom on Shah Rukh Khan’s face is one of the movie’s talking points.
We started pre-production on Fan as early as 2013. The main brief was that it had to look as real as possible. I was initially told that it would not be possible to make an older actor look younger. We spent months on the look and the prosthetics. I sent Greg stills from older SRK films like Deewana, Baazigar and Darr. I wanted Gaurav to look somewhat like the Shah Rukh from these films, but not quite.

Greg and Red Chillies VFX [Shah Rukh Khan’s visual effects company] have put in a lot of work into making the look appear seamless. It will hopefully be a new experience.

The ‘Jabra’ promotional song from ‘Fan’.