Film: ZERO (Drama, Romance)
Critic’s Rating: 3/5
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif, Zeeshan Ayyub, Tigmanshu Dhulia
Direction: Aanand L Rai
Written by: Himanshu Sharma
Duration: 2 hours, 38 minutes
Language: Hindi (U/A)
Bauua Singh (Shah Rukh Khan) from an affluent family in Meerut is a vertically-challenged. A 38-year-old, he wears his height (4 feet 6 inches) with aplomb. The world sees him as just ‘half the man’ he is, but the fact remains that Bauua dreams big; his charm, wit and that wee-bit of arrogance make him adorable. Itching to get hitched, he finally meets his ‘match’ in Aafia Bhinder (Anushka Sharma), a brilliant scientist with cerebral palsy. However, a tryst with India’s superstar, Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaif) who is also a lush, sees his first relationship face a big test. The love triangle spread over Meerut, Mumbai and New York actually ends with Bauua landing on Mars!
First, let’s get the good thing out of the way. Script-writer Himanshu Sharma and filmmaker Aanand L Rai, who have been a formidable combination in the past – Raanjhanaa (2013), Tanu Weds Manu (2011) and Tanu Weds Manu Returns (2015) — have had a consistent box office record. For Zero, this awesome-twosome tackle a scenario fired by ambition. Oh, but the script is dwarfed. While the film has stand-alone witty, wacky and audacious moments, it fails to add up to a whole. Like its three lead characters — Bauua, Aafia and Babita — each of who is inadequate, the script too has several inconsistencies.
Beginning on a promising and perky note with Bauua, the brat who is an adrenaline-junkie, the script goes south (or in this case, goes into the orbit) because it is messed up. Bauua’s cheekiness and his quest to find regular romance actually bring him into proximity with a world-renowned celebrated scientist with not even a door knob opposing their union. The girl, who suffers from cerebral palsy is actually willing to give the dwarf a chance. Of course, this is mainstream Bollywood fare and you have to allow for cinematic license. So, even when he is actually making a nuisance of himself with Aafia, the audience, who is still getting adjusted to his height, is going “oh, he’s so cute!” One is rather patient because honestly, this is novel. Even when he behaves like a cad (can’t reveal plot), one keeps repeating — theek hai yaar. However, the emotions never quite add up.
So, why should you watch Zero? You should watch it for Shah Rukh Khan. His swag, his sincerity and his willingness to go-beyond-vanilla (arms stretched) is worth it. The two girls — Anushka and Katrina — have definitely reserved their better performances for this film, but neither has realised that the inadequacies are not in their acts, the script is frail. It is said, no actor can rise above the script. So, it’s unfair to expect mainstream Bollywood heroines to show you miracles. Especially, because the poor things have to also look good, with mascara running down and arms flailing.
Zero gets marks for Shah Rukh’s experiment into a space less traveled. If you’re curious, go ahead, amuse yourelf.
You would expect a love story to transport you to another fantastical world, but the makers of ‘Zero’ seem to have taken this memo too seriously.
‘Zero’, a love story centred around a cheeky dwarf Bauua Singh (Shah Rukh Khan), a small-towner from Meerut who ends up on a US mission to Mars in an orange suit to win over his lady love, will leave you spaced out with its ludicrous twists and turns.
It’s one of those romances where you walk out of the cinema scratching your head in disbelief at the carnage of creativity that you just witnessed. Somewhere, you even grit your teeth and rant at the two dimwits on the big screen who deserve each other for being collectively stupid in love.
While ‘Zero’ begins on an interesting note with Khan owning the role of a Bauua Singh with gusto and gumption, it’s the second half that derails completely.
Khan is in his element as the short-statured Singh. He doesn’t let his height define him or his existence. He’s conceited, but Khan injects a sense of lovability into his character with his trademark charm and charisma.
However, all that good work crashes and burns when he collides with the two women — a wheelchair-bound scientist Aafia (Anushka Sharma) and a troubled Bollywood star Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaif). Mind you, it isn’t Sharma and Kaif’s fault.
Their characters make sense individually, but together they make absolutely no sense. The courtship between the erudite Aafia and high school dropout Singh seems stilted and forced. There’s absolutely zero chemistry between this pair. Fortunately, Singh’s toxic relationship with the attention-seeking Kumari is a bit more believable. Kaif, in her limited screen time, makes her presence felt as an emotional train-wreck, while Sharma does a neat job of playing a prodigious mathematician. But together their emotional proximity to Singh seems a bit forced.
What isn’t forced is the smattering of witty lines. The irreverential jokes by Singh and his best pal, played wonderfully by Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub Khan, make a smooth landing as you laugh with them and not at them. But that’s just a sliver of a silver lining as this whole film comes across as a vanity project for showcasing Khan’s different shades as an actor and his tall stature.
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