A middle-aged dwarf man from Meerut, Bauua Singh (Shahrukh Khan) has been looking for his match for quite a long time without success till he meets Aafia (Anushka Sharma), a scientist suffering from Cerebral Palsy. Despite the initial friction between them, they hit off pretty soon and fall in love. However, this is where Bauua’s celebrity crush Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaif) enters and that would not only change his relationships but his entire life as well.
Positive Points: –
- The performances of the complete case. Sharh Rukh Khan is no doubt the best one in the lot but let’s also take a moment to appreciate Katrina Kaif’s brilliant rendition of Babita Kumari.
- The dialogues, especially those delivered by Bauua.
- The makers have spent quite a hefty amount on the film’s visual effects and the results have all been bright.
Negative Points: –
- Though I’m in awe with Himanshu Sharma’s dialogue writing, I’m still largely disappointed with the shape of the film’s narrative which is mostly unfocused and frivolous despite its sky-high ambitions.
- Lack of directional insight which has resulted in many inconsistencies that the film bears in its sequence of events.
- Zero actually has a story that’ll make you think about life and relationships in multitude terms but it gets obscured by the film’s mawkishness and extreme dependence of quintessential commercial gimmicks.
- Although Khan is easily the best performer here, I do object to his casting in favour of a real dwarf actor. Had this been the case with any film of the West, it would have already faced a slew of allegations pertaining to racism and similar stuff. But as this is India and actors here have a God-like reputation, the makers of such films easily get away with these kinds of irrational decisions.
The General Aspects: –
I’d admit that I had almost ‘Zero’ expectations from Aanand L. Rai’s Zero and that’s because its trailers didn’t promise us more than a run-of-the-mill love triangle. But the film in real is a lot more than that and it’s definitely not an ordinary story for it has vivid ideation of the life and relationships of the differentially abled which can be felt in how its characters interact and behave. Himanshu Sharma has penned many wonderful dialogues, some funny, some moving and some quirkily both. All throughout its fun-inducing and entertaining premise, the movie doesn’t fail to showcase its philosophies which will hit different people in different ways but they’ll surely get the message no matter how they are affected by the same.
But all of these don’t come out to the audience easily as it has to go through numerous illogical and irrational sets of sequences which can be sickening at times owing to their blatant barminess (viz. the falling stars at Bauaa’s command; Gosh! What was that!). Though this definitely abates as time passes and the viewers get used to its hilarious jokes, Zero takes a completely unexpected turn in its second half and enters the realm of the space world. I fail to understand (and I strongly believe that I’m not in the minority here) as to why the makers incorporated all the space travel drama in this otherwise poignantly sweet film! Although it does confer us with some awe-inducing visuals, yet it decides to depend more on mushiness than realism. The film can be a testament to India cinema’s developing cinematic technicalities but that could have been saved for an authentic sci-fi flick and not a rom-com like this. Now, I’m not saying that space-drama and romance can’t be synergised in a single film but it’s definitely not the way as attempted in Zero.
Lastly, I would like to point out some of my issues with the characterisations in the film. Here, the makers play it extremely safe and revolve the story around three economically sound characters. While I understand their stance in case of Babita, I don’t see any plausible reasons for making Bauua and Aafia rich. That was probably done to make them sing and dance in expensive places (like hotels) with bands, colours, extras, and the like upscale entities which are typical to commercial Indian flicks but Zero could have been a lot more powerful if its characters were common people with limited resources. In such a case, their journey towards their goals and their love would have been a lot more grounded on top but grand at heart.
Zero is hoarded with stars, most of who are talented actors and many of them being on the screen for a few minutes. It witnesses great performances from its leads and a few supporting cast members such as Tigmanshu Dhulia and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub while also displaying underwhelming cameos from talented actors like Abhay Deol and Madhavan. But the best performer of all is Shah Rukh Khan, and irrespective of my issues over his casting instead of a real dwarf actor, I admit that he’s the soul of the film. He gets the best lines, he gets the best development and he makes sure that his well-written character has all the suaveness no matter his stature. Anushka Sharma’s role wasn’t a walk in the park but she delivers it with great finesse. Her determination and hard work in making a cerebral palsy affected personality believable are quite discernible and by no means has she failed in her endeavour.
However, let’s take some time to appreciate Katrina Kaif who gives a blinder as the torn out and narcissist actress Babita Kumari. The best thing about her act is that she is natural and despite the ample room she gets to go overboard, she keeps it down and that’s simply amazing. If there’s one good thing that Rai has done in Zero as the director, then it’s making Kaif act with this great conviction. It was a treat to watch her perform like this! Long way to go lady!
Final Verdict: –
Zero is the kind of film which will leave you in splits. There’s so much to like in it and a whole lot of things to despise. By meshing romance with space-drama, the makers probably wanted to get the best of both the worlds given their talented cast and crafty dialogues, but eventually, they bite off more than they can chew and that costs them an arm and a leg. Though I’d give the film an extra 0.5 for its visual excellence and its performances, I’d like to mention that Zero is Bollywood’s most disheartening failure (not to be confused with worst film coz it’s definitely not) of 2018.