‘Short’ but not sweet

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 22 Dec 2018 11:13:05




By Aasawari Shenolikar,

Love, they say, recognises no barriers - it jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope. And in Bollywood, love transcends all this and more - in Zero, it makes the protagonist don the orange suit and get onto a rocket so as to reach Mars. So what if he is just a Xth pass forty-year-old man, (read dwarf) who cannot even pronounce space, let alone have an inkling of what space is.

All his life, the cocky dwarf Bauaa Singh (Shah Rukh Khan) from Meerut, besides blaming his parents and God for making him a ‘bauna’, goes around showering his father’s hard earned money on people, whiling away time with friends and has notions of settling down with someone who will take him. Not so secretly he also harbours dreams of marrying superstar Babita Singh (Katrina Kaif). A regular at matrimonial offices, Bauaa on the lookout for someone to share his life with, happens to come across a picture of Aafia Bhinder (Anushka Sharma). Without paying any heed to her other credentials, he goes to meet her. Shocked out of his wits on finding that she is a scientist confined to a wheel chair because of her cerebral palsy, - a la Stephen Hawking - he befriends her, beds her and vanishes from her life, before being caught and made to don the dulhe ka sehra. But he doesn’t realise that he has charmed his way into her heart - as she tells her father on the day of their wedding - ‘he is the one who has looked into her eye and talked to her as one talks to any woman,’ ‘he is the one who hasn’t looked at her disability’. However, destiny deals a cruel blow and Aafia is left high and dry at the altar with her groom doing the vanishing act once again. This time, he runs off to Mumbai and becomes a part of Babita Singh’s life.

The drunkard superstar nursing a broken heart, on realising that Bauaa has feelings for Aafia, throws him out of her life. By the way, she is only helping him reach his true love. (Why does she have to stage a scene for this, God alone knows - in hindsight, she is an actor and anything an actor does has to have drama in it). And he rushes off to find love with Aafia, who is now in USA, giving the final touches to her Mission to Mars at National Space and Aeronautical Research Centre.

It is here that what the film, instead of soaring high and touching the sky that it had the potential to do with its ‘two disabled people coping with life and finding love and solace in each other theme’ sinks into abysmal depths with its preposterous plot. Swinging back and forth into utter ridiculousness and sometimes a bit of sagacity, Zero, directed by Aanand Rai, loses even the little credibility that it establishes in the first half. From Meerut, to Mumbai to USA, from the dusty by lanes to glitzy star parties, from terra firma to outer space - this is one catastrophic ride that the filmmakers say took over two years to film. Wish they’d given the audience a solid plot instead of an inane set up. And the ending takes the cake - it made me cringe. What was the writer thinking of when he penned the climax?

The mini SRK charms you with his dimpled smile, to which he makes many references in the film, he sweeps you off your feet in a few scenes with his quintessential charisma and he lights the screen with his zeal, but even he cannot salvage the tacky illogical plot on which the premise of Zero is based. Also, the VFX helps him to successfully look like a dwarf, but in many scenes the effect is nullified. And what we get to see is the achingly archetypal SRK who raises his arms and brings the house down. His act in the hauntingly mellifluous Mere Naam Tu is proof of this. The premise of a dwarf, an incomplete person, trying to deal with his imperfections and living life on his terms could have made for a compelling watch had it been given the right treatment. In the name of entertainment, there is too much frivolity. Any seriousness to deal with the disabilities is lost when, in the name of introducing glitz, we get to see a few of SRK’s heroines - Kajol, Juhi, Karisma, Rani, Sri Devi, Deepika - a la Om Shanti Om style, who look pretty, mock him and depart. Salman Khan’s guest appearance in a song doesn’t help to raise the entertainment quotient even a bit.
Anushka Sharma as a woman afflicted with cerebral palsy plays her part well and is shown to be spunky, who speaks her mind. Kat delivers a knock out performance - crying over a Mr Kapoor. Any guesses anyone? The talented Tighmanshu Dhulia doesn’t have an author backed role, Madhav is in a cameo, the rest fit in and out of frames without leaving any mark.

With SRK’s past few releases biting the dust, a lot is riding on Zero - a film that would put him back into the league where he found himself post Chak De India. Does it pass the test?  Nah!

It doesn’t get Zero stars, but doesn’t get full marks either. It’s just a little more than its title. The wait for SRK to weave his magic continues….

The Hitavada Rating : O 1/2