It is almost 2019 and the Indian audiences have exposure to some of the best Sci-Fi movies from the other side of the world. Yet, we have a big-ticket Hindi movie insulting our intelligence! Director Aanand L Rai’s biggest movie till date, Zero, starring Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma and Katrina Kaif is an ambitious idea, killed by lazy and uninspiring writing.
Baua Singh (Shah Rukh Khan) is a 38-year old son of a well-to-do Meerut-based businessman, Ashok (Tigmanshu Dhulia). Baua is spirited, fun-loving singleton with just one drawback – he is physically stunted. At 4 feet 6 inch, he is short, but not in ambition. Along with his motley of friends, especially the half-blind Guddu (Zeeshan Ayyub), Baua idolizes, loves and revers reigning star Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaif). He is the quintessential fanboy from the Hindi heartland – wear shirts with Babita’s pictures, dances in gay abandon, calls her ‘iss ghar ki bahu’ and even throws a bundle of money to celebrate her break-up with a ‘Kapoor’ (too much of reel-life mirroring real-life)! Here enters Aafia Yusufzai Bhinder (Anushka Sharma), a renowned space researcher with Cerebral Palsy. The rest of the movie is an overdrawn mixture of unnecessary and illogical twists, filled with dozens of cameos. (Spoiler Alert – There is Sridevi as well <3 o:p="">3>
The problem with Zero majorly lies in its story and execution. I pity the lead actors for their earnest efforts, because only they seem to have complete conviction in the narrative, even when the screenplay and the direction falter. Writer Himanshu Sharma is known for his witty dialogues, best of which were seen in Tanu Weds Manu, and does not disappoint here. The dialogues are effervescent, funny and with a lot of references to yesteryear’s Bollywood. It is in the screenplay that Himanshu disappoints. There is no mention of what Aafia’s disability is. (I got to know from Wiki and IMDB that it was Cerebral Palsy) The love story between Aafia, a renowned scientist, and Baua, a ‘Tenth Pass’, is not built well enough and when they part ways, it comes up as an unconvincing plot twist. The audiences wonder what really led to these chain of events – was it just to lead up to the fantasy-like Sci-Fi filled second half? Only the makers can answer!
I understand that a movie with the Badshaah of Romance does not necessarily need scientific logic. Even at this age, Shah Rukh Khan has his charm intact and his trademark romance is in full display in the beautifully shot song, ‘Mere Naam Tu’. But before the launch of a spacecraft, as a checklist, if a character asks the lead scientist on the space mission – ‘Maths Theek Hai?’ and she replies ‘Yes’, it appears fake and reflects on the lazy writing! Even the ‘scientists’ in the mediocre ‘Krishh’ had better and more intelligent questions to ask! While it does not ridicule or poke fun at physical disabilities – something commonly seen in Bollywood comedies – it does reduce them to outliers amongst normal people. It is understandable that people with stunted growth are poked fun at or called ‘Bauna’, but not even discussing about the disability of a lead actor and referring to her as ‘Hilti rehti hai’ is almost like ridiculing them and their abilities. Even Guddu, played by Zeeshan Ayyub, is shown to be partially blind and is made to evoke laughs with his improper demeanor.
Giving credit where it’s due, the camerawork by Manu Anand and the music by Ajay Atul are top-notch. The next best thing about the movie is the performances by all the three leads. Anushka Sharma looks beautiful and delivers well, though she seems like a caricature before you get used to her. Shah Rukh Khan is sure to charm his fans with his trademarks histrionics – he has a charming flamboyance, perfect comic timing and repeats his favorite tropes – wide-stretched arms and ’toote hue taare’. Honestly, he does not look like a physically stunted man – his body is not disproportionate or has smaller hands. He just looks like a man shrunk in his size by the ray gun from Honey I Shrunk the Kids! Kamal Haasan looked more believable in his 1989-hit, Appu Raja. But SRK’s charm lets you overlook it. The other performance that made me sit up and take notice was by Katrina Kaif! I think after Namaste London, this was the first time she tried emoting. Playing an almost autobiographical role, she displays the insecurities and sadness that some of the biggest actors in our country go through. Though a relatively smaller role, she shows the vulnerabilities of a superstar ‘jiska poora UP deewana hai’, who puts up a happy façade for the outside world while crumbling within. Zeeshan Ayyub is the only one who stands out among the supporting cast and is fine as the supportive friend/sidekick.
The culprits here are writer Himanshu Sharma and director Aanand Rai, for making an insipid and uneven movie. If not for the audiences, they should have worked better at least for the hard-work put in by the leads. While the movie’s name itself says Zero, thanks to the lead actors, I would rate this movie slightly higher!
My Rating – 2/5