Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Sheeba Chaddha, Brijendra Kala, R. Madhavan, Deepika, Sreedevi, Karisma Kapoor, Juhi Chawla, Salman Khan, Remo,
Director: Anand L Rai
Rating: * * *
A moniker like ‘Zero’ would welcome far more negative than positive comments given its affinity to representing competitive insignificance and therefore a loss-of-face and but there’s nothing insignificant about Anand L Rai’s fairly lovable, though unbelievably preposterous leap-of-faith about an incorrigible, 39 year old, pint-sized (midget) dynamo nicknamed ‘Bauua’ Singh (Shah Rukh Khan) who lives his life king size, egged on by a short-sighted, colourful, constant companion (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub), in Meerut, where his disgruntled father (Tigmanshu Dhulia), a businessman of repute, so fed-up with his errant shenanigans that he is ready to marry him off to the first woman agreeable even if she, Aafiya Yusufzai Binder (Anushka Sharma, artistically exenterated), a Sikh-Afghani mix, happens to be a female version of Stephen Hawking in a multi-facilitative wheelchair. She also happens to be a NASA scientist spear-heading India’s Mission to Mars program. So you know where this story is headed given the adage that ‘Men are from Mars…” and so forth!
Just when you think the surprising romance between midget Bauua and paraplegic Aafiya has possibilities, in walks superstar Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaif doing splendidly in her first challenging role), a heart-broken lush, who finds it difficult to get over her broken affair with a philandering co-star (Abhay Deol). She has been a provocateur of Bauua’s wet-dreams for several years now and the chance promotional event in a Meerut Mall allows for a ludicrous lip-lock that sets his life course away from Aafiya – who by then has fallen in love with him.
All the main characters have some flaw, abnormality or disability and that makes it different from the normal Bollywood mainstream product I guess. But this film is not really about the challenges and obstacles faced by imperfect people. They just happen to be grist for the cast to present a façade slightly deeper than the one we are used to.
There’s nothing really deep, meaningful or touching in this hedonistic stream of fictitiousness that drains your interest post the first half. After an invigoratingly entertaining series of humorous exchanges and verbal volleys, we are steered into a stereotypical multi-angled love story and that’s when Bauua redacts into SRK of yore.
You can see the difference in the second half where Anand L Rai and the team try hard to superimpose SRK mannerisms on a character who till then shone brightest because of his unique individuality. The dance competition sequence (no dance, just posturing, and song) where the audience can be heard cheering SRK, is the most stupid, hare-brained and useless sequence in the entire film. And it’s quite clear from that one sequence that the director has well given up on presenting something different.
The pre-interval portion detailing Bauua’s world and challenges and his interactions with his family, closest friend and Aafiya are the most challenging and superbly written parts of this unabashed mass entertainer. Thereafter it’s just balderdash.
The VFX is patchy, the continuity is shoddy and the likeability takes a severe beating because of unrequired indulgence. Attempts to give Bauua extra moments on the screen to showboat him only make him look ridiculous. His plucky pursuit of Babita and Aafiya would be considered stalking in real life.
The scene where he stage-manages a break-up with Babita Kumari comes across as totally off and the sequence where he runs off with Aafiya’s baby appears clueless. There’s lots more that defies description and logic here.
The chimp’s tantrums, the replacement, and the propped-up patriotism rant are all puerile, futile attempts to pander to a mass that has most likely gone off the overdose. Performances are likable but it’s not enough to sustain believability in an outlandish set-up.
If Rai and Company had stuck to the original idea of giving SRK an opportunity of going out of the box and staying true to that theme throughout, we would have had a more meaningful and exciting outing at the theatres. The way it is now, you are bound to feel inevitably pained by the corrupted corpulence of the unwieldy second half!