DUBAI: Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) and Anand L Rai had teamed up to give an experience of a lifetime. Their film Zero – also starring Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif, Muhammad Zeeshan Ayyub, R Madhavan and Tigmanshu Dhulia – was supposed to save Bollywood from an abysmal year at the box office. Did it manage to come up to the expectations? Well, partially.
SRK stars as Bauua Singh, a 39-year-old dwarf with an ego the size of a giant. Flanked by his best friend Guddu, Bauua is a pain in his father’s neck. Played brilliantly by Tigmanshu, the father is a ‘middle-class Indian’ who loves cutting his son down to size (no pun intended) and is angry at the fact that Bauua likes to throw away his money.
In flashbacks, we see how Bauua had registered on Shaadi.com and had met Aafia Yousafzai Bhinder (Anushka) there – a renowned scientist of Afghan-Punjabi descent living with cerebral palsy. Bauua falls in love with Aafia and vice versa, but things don’t fall into place as superstar and bombshell actress Babita Kumari (Katrina) comes into Bauua’s life.
The first half of Zero encompasses all of this and more. The dialogue is crisp, the cameos are entertaining and SRK has convincingly pulled off the wisecracking ageing dwarf from Meerut down to a tee. Even in weakly built up moments, like when we see Bauua falling in love with Aafia, King Khan unleashes his magic, lending support to the powerful romantic ballad Mere Naam Tu.
The banter between Bauua and Guddu is engaging and as always, SRK’s dialogue delivery and comedic timing is perhaps one of the highest points of the film. That’s really saying something because in the second half of Zero is a trip to Mars that you wish you could abort.
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Katrina as an angry and troubled superstar is flawless. She emotes without missing a beat and perhaps, this is one of her finest performances ever. Zeeshan, as always, provides the comic relief and keeps it real. His bromance with Bauua is a lot more believable and evocative than the latter’s chemistry with Aafia, upon which the whole premise of Zero rests.
As far as difficult roles go, this is perhaps Anushka’s weakest performance. She is struggling to appear believable and often just emerges as a weak imitation of a person with cerebral palsy. The storyline given to Aafia fails her. There is also a cringe-worthy monologue towards the end of the film that just does not work.
The second half of Zero feels like another film altogether. There are unnecessary tearjerkers and the total disappearance of key characters such as Bauua’s father and Babita. With multiple tracks in the story, haywire emotional moments and a lack of heart between in Bauua and Aafia love story makes it difficult for the audience to invest in the outcome of the characters.
SRK, Katrina and Himanshu emerge as the real winners of Zero. It is unfortunate that such high-quality CGI was spent on the second half’s weak storyline. Due to an excessive reliance on SRK’s charm and talent – especially in the emotional moments – the plot suffered immensely.
Verdict: Watch Zero for the performances. Don’t expect much logic out of it.
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