‘Zero’ review: A movie that fails horribly

The movie, ‘ZERO’ has more Bollywood stars than good ratings according to the critics. Preposterous drivel say critics.

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Abhay Deol, R Madhavan, Sheeba Chaddha, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub

Director: Aanand L Rai

Zero‘ makes you light and easy, which is good, but the problem is that it doesn’t really take you on that flight of entertainment, which you set out for

NDTV’s review states “Outlandish in more ways than it can possibly orchestrate without going into frequent tailspins, Aanand L Rai’s Zero, a superstar vehicle with wildly wobbly wheels, is a monumental mess.”

It was also with Indian Express that the movie was ordained as a flop.

The bigger trouble is that the film doesn’t quite know what to do with its characters once it has them. The writing is all over the place, and everything is so choppy, that the characters all appear to float in their own bubbles, without any palpable connection with each other.

The story of ‘ZERO’

Zero opens in Meerut – in the first sequence, the set makes the Uttar Pradesh town look like the Wild, Wild West – where Bauua has repeated run-ins with his exasperated father (Tigmanshu Dhulia) while his mother (Sheeba Chaddha) has a hard time shielding him. The 38-year-old matriculate’s repeated attempts through a matchmaker (Brijendra Kala) to find a bride for himself also yields no results. He is at his tether’s end.

Bauua’s life changes when he chances upon the wheelchair-bound Aafia Yusufzai Bhinder (Anushka Sharma), a brilliant half-Pathan, half-Punjabi space scientist whose ambition is to see India in the forefront of the global mission to send a manned spacecraft to Mars. For him, it is love at first sight – he mistakenly presumes that the amiable Aafia is his equal because she is the first girl he can look her in the eye. For her, his antics are mere temporary diversions. She is only on a brief visit to the land of her birth from the space centre where she works in the US.

Post-intermission, Zero flies too high and too helter-skelter to make any real sense at all – you watch with steadily declining interest solely because a superstar is at the heart of the effort. If nothing else, Zero is Bollywood’s first film that does not wind up with a desperate race-against-time reunion in a railway station or an airport but on the launchpad of a spacecraft headed for outer space.

If only the film hadn’t been so utterly spaced out and the physical disabilities and shortcomings of the two principal characters been treated less cavalierly, Zero might have added up to something more than it eventually does. It yields no percentage because of its unacceptable, insensitive central premise that defines a four feet-something man and a cerebral palsy-afflicted woman primarily in the light of what they lack. Their drawbacks drive the drama but the constant harping on what they aren’t at the expense of what they could be can only leave is cringing.

For Bollywood fans, Zero offers a parade of luminaries – Sridevi, Karisma Kapoor, Kajol, Rani Mukerji, Juhi Chawla, Deepika Padukone and Alia Bhatt in a party scene, in which the hero seeks to demonstrate the unique talent for doing a rapid-fire countdown and sending stars streaking across the night sky and Salman Khan along with choreographers Ganesh Acharya and Remo D’Souza in a passage that has Bauua win a dance competition without breaking a sweat.

Of course, in this latter sequence, we do not see any of the other contestants. Understandable: giving the dance stage to extras would amount to waste of precious footage in a 164-minute film designed for a Bollywood megastar exploring new pastures. After all the film also has to account for Abhay Deol and R Madhavan in walk-on parts.

Shah Rukh cannot be faulted. He gives his hundred per cent to liven up Zero, but for a film running on empty that is only a zero-sum game. Anushka contorts her face and angles her lips to deliver her lines – Full marks to her for effort. Katrina, who inevitably makes her entry with an item number, tries her best to convey the angst of a public figure whose life is a series of mishaps.

About Naufal Khan

Naufal Khan was the Publisher at ADISHAKTI MEDIA and the editor-in-chief of the South African Indian news service Indian Spice. Khan was former Sunday Times journalist and also an occult fiction and non-fiction writer with several published titles.