You would expect a love story to transport you to another fantastical world, but the makers of ‘Zero’ seem to have taken this memo too seriously.
‘Zero’, a love story centred around a cheeky dwarf Bauua Singh (Shah Rukh Khan), a small-towner from Meerut who ends up on a US mission to Mars in an orange suit to win over his lady love, will leave you spaced out with its ludicrous twists and turns.
It’s one of those romances where you walk out of the cinema scratching your head in disbelief at the carnage of creativity that you just witnessed. Somewhere, you even grit your teeth and rant at the two dimwits on the big screen who deserve each other for being collectively stupid in love.
While ‘Zero’ begins on an interesting note with Khan owning the role of a Bauua Singh with gusto and gumption, it’s the second half that derails completely.
Khan is in his element as the short-statured Singh. He doesn’t let his height define him or his existence. He’s conceited, but Khan injects a sense of lovability into his character with his trademark charm and charisma.
However, all that good work crashes and burns when he collides with the two women — a wheelchair-bound scientist Aafia (Anushka Sharma) and a troubled Bollywood star Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaif). Mind you, it isn’t Sharma and Kaif’s fault.
Their characters make sense individually, but together they make absolutely no sense. The courtship between the erudite Aafia and high school dropout Singh seems stilted and forced. There’s absolutely zero chemistry between this pair. Fortunately, Singh’s toxic relationship with the attention-seeking Kumari is a bit more believable. Kaif, in her limited screen time, makes her presence felt as an emotional train-wreck, while Sharma does a neat job of playing a prodigious mathematician. But together their emotional proximity to Singh seems a bit forced.
What isn’t forced is the smattering of witty lines. The irreverential jokes by Singh and his best pal, played wonderfully by Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub Khan, make a smooth landing as you laugh with them and not at them. But that’s just a sliver of a silver lining as this whole film comes across as a vanity project for showcasing Khan’s different shades as an actor and his tall stature.
All of that would have been forgiven if the second half of the film didn’t venture into the ludicrous territory. Singh qualifying to be a Mars-mule in the US was the proverbial last straw.
While credit has to be given to director Aanand L Rai for normalising disability in a romance, it is best to keep your expectations at zero to enjoy ‘Zero’.
Director: Aanand L Rai
Running time: 175 minutes
Cast: Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif and Shah Rukh Khan
Stars: 1.5 out of 5