Zero is a strange film from the least likely quarters. Writer and director behind films like Tanu Weds Manu and Raanjhanaa come up with a story that is bizarre with twists and turns that make you want to get up and leave.
The film starts pretty well with the earthiness that the writer and director of the film are known for. Bauua (Shah Rukh Khan) and his father Ashok (Tigmanshu Dhulia) share a volatile relationship. Bauua is barely four feet and few inches tall but makes up for his lack of height in swagger and attitude. He doesn’t need pity and his father doesn’t show any, responding to his wastrel behavior with his belt. But soon realistic treatment transforms to fantasy. Bauua falls for a US based space scientist Aafia (Anushka Sharma), a cerebral palsy patient confined to the wheel chair. Aafia reciprocates and even wants to marry Bauua. Mind you, Bauua hasn’t studied beyond tenth grade but what does lack of education matter to an internationally known space scientist anyway? To make the story further unpalatable, Bauua decides to run away from his wedding because he thinks he is fit to marry a Bollywood queen Babita (Katrina Kaif). Can’t blame Bauua though, the actress did stop her car in the middle of the highway in Meerut and gave our Bauua a full-blown kiss. However, the cherry in the cake comes next. Our Bauua flies business class to United States, gets selected to fly to Mars, takes off to space, spends fifteen years there – miraculously surviving the ordeal. At this point, I stopped questioning the story anymore. Anything is possible, especially the impossible and our Bauua is a bigger superhero than those inhabiting the Marvel comics’ universe.
No offense to Himanshu Sharma, but a high school student could have written a more coherent script. Top Bollywood actresses don’t take dwarfs from Meerut to their bedroom, scientists generally don’t fall for uneducated wastrels, you don’t go to America and stand in line to be chosen to fly to space. Instead you prepare academically and physically for years before being selected through a rigorous selection process. Ironically, people coming and working illegally (i.e., without a valid visa) is a burning issue in America. Forget about going to Mars, Bauua would probably land in jail for working illegally.
Performance wise, this gamble will backfire for Shah Rukh Khan. Even as a dwarf, he is still King Khan. He lacks the vulnerability that Kamal Haasan brought to a similar character Appu in Apoorva Sagodharargal. Moreover, without solid acting, the character is hard to root for. Anushka Sharma too turns in a lackluster performance. It is hard to understand her dialogues and after a while she is plain irritating. Katrina Kaif has performed a little better and her character’s frustration seems genuine. The only character I wanted to see more was Bauua’s father – Tigmanshu Dhulia is the most fun to watch.
It appears that with a megastar in their midst, the writer and director dropped the ethos of close-to-the-soil film-making and attempted a blockbuster more in line with a Rohit Shetty production. Sad to say, this kichdi is utterly tasteless and at 164 minutes, more than your stomach can handle.