Starcast: Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub and others
Director: Aanad L Rai
In the heartland of Meerut, director Aanand L Rai introduces us to a 39-year-old Bauaa Singh (Shah Rukh Khan) who is a dwarf (a man short of inches vertically) and has no remorse using his physical disability to his advantage. His razor sharp wit, tongue-in-cheek remarks and invincible charm are served in right dollops to ardent SRK fans. Bauaa is selfish yet endearing and the credit for this goes to writer Himanshu Rai for making the otherwise sophisticated Khan mouth street smart one-liners some of which the actor admitted in an interview may sound crass. But he is unapologetic about the way he is. In the chase of of finding a girl for marriage, Bauaa meets Aafia Yusufzai Bhinder (Anushka Bhinder), a NASA scientist who suffers from cerebral palsy, via a marriage agency. How Bauaa woes Aafia establishes the first half of the film.
Cut to Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaif), an alcoholic, emotionally challenged Bollywood superstar, who in a drunken stupor kisses Bauaa, changing his course of life with Aafia, and the film’s second half. She gets 25 minutes screen time with Bauaa on his journey to Mumbai in search of a delusional life. Sooner though, he realizes his real love for Aafia, and in a quest to win her back, travels the length to NASA!
What starts as a romantic endevaour moves towards spaceships and ‘Mangal yatra’ aka Mars mission. And so, the film loses its plot. Even Himanshu, who in the past has belted out gripping screenplays for romantic, emotional films like Tanu Weds Manuand Raanjhana, makes the love story too technical to digest.
Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as Bauaa’s BFF in the film aptly sums ‘ZERO’ in one line, “Mangal sirf kundali main aata hai, hum mangal nai jaatey.” The quest of proving one’s love and worth leave the film in the lurch towards the finishing line.
But Shah Rukh shines throughout. He is no ZERO in the film, rather he completes the other loose ends. However, in a few scenes, it’s difficult to digest the fact that the superstar is playing the role of dwarf and even the VFX can’t save the day for him.
Anushka has worked hard on her body language and her act, and her stammering and shaking looks artificial and forced upon in some parts, but for the rest she could have been wheelchair bound all her life and stricken with cerebral palsy. Katrina is a surprise package in her brief performance, portraying her hurt and angst with much finesse. After Namastey London in 2007, this is a homecoming act for the actress and director Aanand L Rai should take the laurels.
A 30-second cameo of the late Sridevi will make you nostalgic of how soon we lost a star whose presence lit the screen despite today’s superstars Alia Bhatt and Deepika Padukone being a part of that one particular scene. Salman Khan’s much-talked about dance number with SRK manages to draw applause from the audiences. Abhay Deol and R . Madhavan too make brief appearances in the film, nevertheless moving the story forward.
What fails the film is taking Meerut too far, ie to NASA, where the emotions, romance, love and all things sentimental dive into space and get lost.
We give Zero 3 out of 5 moons; one for SRK making a comeback of sorts, one between Katrina and Anushka for essaying their parts with sincerity, and lastly, for the almost there commendable VFX job by Red Chilies Entertainment in a hardcore commercial film. If anything, the film proves that romance is romance – and nobody does it better than Shah Rukh Khan.