While the first half is breezy enough, with SRK in his elements, charming the audience and Aafiya with his with, comic timing and Meeruthiya swag its the long second half, where Bauua lives in Mumbai and realises the world of glamour is far from perfect that the film starts to become illogical
It's amazing that in a year where entertainment industry world over has witnessed a sea change in terms of representation and inclusion, a film keeps using the word 'normal' to describe a person who is not a dwarf. Filmmaker Anand L Rai's latest film 'Zero' has Shah Rukh Khan playing a dwarf and one would expect the ace director and superstar to churn out a memorable film if not a pathbreaking one. But 'Zero' doesn't do any of those things. It, in fact, forces down your throat the most illogical story of all time.
'Zero' begins with much potential. Bauua Singh (SRK) may not have got the height, but has immense confidence which keeps him going. He has a difficult relationship with his family, is made fun of most often by everyone around him- but he takes it in his stride. He laughs the most at himself and loves himself the most. A self-centered guy, Bauua is unapologetic about his nature and his obsession towards the idea of love. When he is sent on a date with Aafiya (Anushka Sharma) a space scientist with cerebral palsy, he is most upset about the fact that she doesn't bother to look at him despite his little frame and cocky behaviour. As he woos Aafiya, his agenda is clear- he just wants her to fall for him. But for Aafiya, it is love as she finally finds someone speaking to her at her level. She is a person with special needs, is wheelchair bound- yet she is treated normally and not with sympathy by Bauua Singh.
As Afiya lands in Meerut to meet Bauua's family and they in turn hastily fix the two's wedding, Bauua discovers that Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaif), the big Bollywood star, is in town and heads over to meet her. A chance encounter at night on a deserted highway, a kiss from the superstar and a ticket to a dance reality show in Mumbai makes Bauua walk out on Aafiya on their wedding day.
While the first half is breezy enough, with SRK in his elements, charming the audience and Aafiya with his wit, comic timing and Meeruthiya swag it's the long second half, where Bauua lives in Mumbai and realises the world of glamour is far from perfect that the film starts to become illogical- to put it mildly. Mind you, his charm is effervescent SRK style, not really Bauua's own. It is almost an extension of the actor himself, which always does manage to impress us.
Written by Himanshu Sharma- who has in the past written 'Tanu Weds Manu'- the film over-indulges and literally spills out on screen as SRK's personal wishlist. Here is a superstar, who after ruling the box office for decades, has played myriad roles in his career. What has he not played before? A dwarf! But instead of talking about disabilities and being a tad sensitive towards who are born with physical deformities, the film makes Bauua a miracle man. He romances, emotes, dances like all the characters that SRK has played before in his career. Apart from the height, there is really not too much difference between Raj of DDLJ and Bauua of 'Zero'. Both are brash, irritating and self-centered and they both realise their inner feelings the hard way.
Some of the plot points are so illogical that they can leave the audience baffled. It is also tough to understand that a man with no proper profession finds cash in abundance to splurge on himself, his friend and the women he loves. Then, of course, there is a long-drawn space mission that takes over the latter part of the second half and SRK even casually slips in a patriotic line or two.
Among the ladies, it is Katrina Kaif who shines the most. The actress delivers her career's best performance as the dissuaded star Babita Kumari. There is a certain nonchalance to her stardom and she is a conflicted personality and Kaif shines in a role that could be an extension of many actors in real life.
Anushka's tries. Aafiya is a woman who is a genius but with disabilities. It isn't an easy role by any standards and Anushka gets it right to an extent but tends to ham a bit in certain portions. Had the writing been more coherent, Anushka would have delivered a far more convincing performance.
The film has several cameos. Because it's a big budget film, SRK, who is also the producer of the film, gets some prominent names to play walk-away parts. Abhay Deol, R Madhavan play the other halves to the leading ladies who instead pine for Bauua. There is also the late Sridevi along with Rani Mukerji, Aalia Bhatt, Juhi Chawla, Kajol, Deepika Padukone and Karisma Kapoor who appear in an absolutely unnecessary scene which is well cringe-worthy. Salman Khan's song also seems hurriedly put together just to show off the two actors' camaraderie.
'Zero' tries hard to experiment. On paper, the idea may have looked great, but on the big screen, it is an over-indulgent story used to showcase SRK in all his glory. For a man who has experimented with films and roles very early in his career, the plot of 'Zero' proves to be tried, tested, illogical and mundane.
2018 has seen some incredible cinema and great performances. 'Zero', unfortunately, does not make it to that list.