Banners: Red Chillies Entertainment, Colour Yellow Productions
Producer: Gauri Khan
Director: Aanand L Rai
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub, R Madhavan, Abhay Deol, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Sheeba Chaddha, Brijendra Kala
Writer: Himanshu Sharma
A vertically challenged man-boy, a physically challenged scientist, an emotionally challenged actress; a story set in the cities of Meerut, Mumbai and Orlando; and add to that mix a chimpanzee and of course lots of love, emotion, drama and laughter, and you have Zero. Sure, it sounds absurd but in all this lies the heart of Zero, and that’s all that matters.
Bauua Singh is a man of limited height but towering confidence and an even more towering attitude. He is always at loggerheads with his father Ashok, who he blames for his stunted growth. Then there is his mother Kusum, who loves him but can also see through his tantrums. A diehard fan of actress Babita Kumari, Bauua will do anything to see her and meet her. His group of friends led by Guddu egg him on and his love for their ‘bhabhi’!
While watching a movie of Babita, Bauua gets a call from a marriage agency in Delhi. On this trip, we discover Aafia Yusufzai Binder, the woman Bauua ‘fell in love’ with and intended to marry. Being the stud that he thinks he is, it was no more than a one-night stand. Interestingly, when Bauua returns to Meerut, he is shocked to find Aafia at his parents’ home and his family making plans to get the two of them married. During the wedding preparations, an encounter with Babita Kumari and the chance of meeting her again is reason enough for Bauua to run away to Mumbai.
A dance competition and a star-studded party later, he finds himself in Babita’s house as her confidante. While Bauua struggles with the guilt of breaking Aafia’s heart, Babita is fighting her own emotional demons. And these struggles lead Bauua to America to get Aafia back. When he arrives there, he discovers a lot of water has flowed under the bridge and to get back Aafia, he might have to reach for the stars, literally!
Himanshu Sharma and Aanand L Rai have given us films like Tanu Weds Manu, Tanu Weds Manu Returns and Raanjhanaa. The characters in their stories are real and have flaws. Set in semi-urban cities, they are about relationships and the dynamics in them. With Zero, these inherent markers of their narrative are intact. No character in the movie is without shortcomings, so yes they are real. But at the same time the situations they are put in and the way they deal with them are absurd.
But isn’t that what cinema is also about, a celebration of the unreal, the fantastic, the aspirational? There is not a single moment in this film where something is not happening. It is like a continuous shot of ideas, events and expressions. The only thing that bothers is the blinding, star-studded cameos, which are unnecessary surprises.
One of the challenges for this film was creating a dwarf version of Shah Rukh Khan. Though in most parts Bauua looks perfect, there are times when he appears ‘compressed’ to fit into the scenes. But full marks to the VFX and camera team for trying something so different. Ajay-Atul’s music is top notch. Be it the songs or the background score, everything works. Mere naam tu, from visuals to vocals, is a goose-bumps experience.
Performance-wise, Shah Rukh Khan as Bauua Singh is endearing. He is innocent and he is conniving. He is brash and lovable. He works his charm to the ‘T’, irrespective of how tall he is and how wide he can spread his arms. He does not have his conventional romantic moments with his leading ladies, but he manages to still tug at the heart with his dimpled smile. An award-winning performance from SRK, for sure.
Anushka Sharma as Aafia takes on the challenge of the physical disability with guts and proves that she can do anything that is thrown at her. But the actor who surprises with her performance is Katrina Kaif. As Babita Kumari, she is amazing. Her opening scene in the film when she is sitting in the bathtub trying to reach her boyfriend is one of the most heart-breaking scenes. At the same time, her diva-like attitude shocks us, and she wears it with aplomb.
The rest of the cast has their moments and each one of them does justice to what they have been given. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub as Bauua’s friend has some of the funniest lines but at times he’s loud. Tigmanshu Dhulia as Ashok and Sheeba Chaddha as Kusum are fantastic. Abhay Deol and Madhavan are decent. Others lend adequate support.
Verdict: A treat for all Shah Rukh Khan fans!