Zero movie review: Preposterous drivel

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Zero movie cast: Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif, Shah Rukh Khan, Abhay Deol, R Madhavan, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Sheeba Chaddha, Brijendra Kala, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub
Zero movie director: Aanand L Rai
Zero movie rating: 1 star

Rarely has a film aroused so much curiosity as Zero. Even those who stay away from the blitzkrieg of pre-release publicity, knew that in this one, Shah Rukh Khan was playing a vertically challenged character. He does. Bauua Singh, four feet six inches, is a mini-me SRK, and that he does look so close to the ground, is a VFX triumph.

The trouble with Zero is not just that the mini-me SRK is just SRK minus the inches. Every twitch is familiar: the tousled hair, commonplace air, the regular joe who wears ‘kachcha-banian’. We saw this SRK last in Fan. In that one, we bought him. In Zero, we don’t, because Bauua is always the Hero, accompanied by a best friend (Ayyub) whose only job is to prop him (Bauua) up, who is enmeshed in a love triangle, who soars over his difficulties while singing and dancing and romancing. That vertically challenged bit should have been the differentiator. But it’s nothing but window dressing, a hook on which hangs nothing.

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.

I suppose I would have got past the preposterousness if the film made me feel. The only thing I felt was dismay, because of the relentlessness of the drivel we were subjected to almost all the way through.

In the beginning you relate, because we see Bauua the ‘bauna’ having a tough time finding his groove, always tussling with mum (Chaddha) and dad (Dhulia). You relate when Bauua show flashes of rage at his situation, and lashes out at people. But all too soon, the film abandons its minimal air of rootedness, and flees towards preposterousness.

Two people in challenging circumstances trying to find intimacy is a great premise, especially if there is awareness of how ‘out- of- the- norm’ people are forced to deal with so-called normal people: And Zero’ could have done it twice over, because Aafia (Sharma), one of its female characters, is a wheelchair bound NASA scientist with cerebral palsy.

But Zero fails spectacularly at giving us anything we can believe in, and we go from start to finish, with disbelief growing with each passing frame.

The set-up takes forever, and we wait for something of substance to take place, like insights into just how difficult being out of the norm can be (characters uses the word ‘normal’ twice without realizing just how insensitive it sounds), from both Bauua’s and Aafia’s perspective.

This could have been a film for the ages. How many times do we see A-list Bollywood superstars go out of their comfort zone? SRK could have taken a deep dive into Bauua and emerged on another level. But he gets busy trying to do another Swades, and fly the flag, and be a patriot. When you try to do everything, very little is achieved – Agency.

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