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.
Cut two: Bauua is seen chasing Babita. This chapter of the emotionally-wrought heroine and her means of amusement (the dwarf) also has some magic moments. Bollywood references, the Issaqbaazi number with Salman Khan (cameo), choreographers Ganesh Acharya and Remo D’souza, not to forget Bauua with his terrific dancing skills, all add up to keep you rooting. However, when the vertically challenged man follows Babita around like Mary's little lamb, longer than necessary, your smile turns into a grimace. Honestly, what were the makers thinking? Who was listening to some of the hare-brain twists in the plot? Knock, knock, who’s there? Guys, audaciousness is awesome, but there are times when the scenario borders on the ridiculous.
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.