Do not try and find logic in a Salman Khan film. That became a learning long time ago. Leave your brain at home and enjoy the brawn, we told ourselves. Little did we know we would have to make peace with even brainless Shah Rukh Khan films. So when Aanand L Rai named his film Zero, he probably should have got his Maths correct. Because the name of his film might just be the closest metaphor to what Zero is.
‘Bauna’ Bauua Singh rules Meerut and Mumbai Queen Babita Kumari rules his life. He is 38 years old, vertically challenged and has barely matriculated. Bauua does not want to die a bachelor. So he lands up at a matrimonial agency’s doorsteps, a photo of the girl from their portal in hand. But she is out of his league. Or so we think.
Scientist Aafiya Yusafzai Bhinder falls in love with this ‘gaanwaar’ and he serenades her with shooting stars. Till superstar Babita replaces Aafiya in Bauua’s life by a stroke of pure, unbelievable luck. Babita Kumari needs a place in Alcoholics Anonymous. But awkwardly waltzes into the ‘bauna’s’ heart. Life goes on, from smalltown Meerut to big city Mumbai and before you know it, director Aanand L Rai hurls the next missle at his audience: Mars.
Like they say in the best of sci-fi films from the West, a miscalculation of an inch lands a spacecraft several miles off its destination. The trajectory of Zero meets the same fate. Director Aanand L Rai’s Zero starts well. Shah Rukh Khan plays to the gallery. He dances to Babita Kumari’s tunes in the theatre as India dances to his tunes in theatres off screen. Khan romances both Sharma and Kaif with abandon. But he cannot save this disaster of a film.
The biggest front on which Zero scores a zero is logic. Writer Himanshu Sharma should have spent some time in researching the nitty-gritties of sending a spaceship to Mars before starting off on this tough journey. Director Aanand L Rai gives Shah Rukh Khan fans enough of the whistle-worthy moments. A lot of slapstick is thrown in to make Zero palatable. That does the trick. Zero gets its seetis and taalis. Shah Rukh rehashes his own elements and adds them to Zero too. There is a lot of romancing; complete with the outstretched arms and teary eyes and quivering lips. Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub as Bauua’s best friend is a revelation in Zero. Zeeshan brings his comic timing from Raanjhanaa and gives the audience a best-friend duo to look out for, straight out of our Jai-Veeru tales; complete with the scooter and sidecar.
All of these external elements hardly help cover this shoddy tale of mismatched fortunes and love stories. Post intermission, especially in the last 20 minutes of the film, the desperation is visible. The writer and director are both clutching at the last straws and trying to give a befitting end to Zero. They have to try and make sense AND they have to keep Shah Rukh Khan fans happy. In this tussle, logic is thrown into the Pacific Ocean.
The film gets passable performances from its lead actors. Shah Rukh Khan is impressive as Bauua Singh. He gets into his a few-sizes-smaller shoes and does the Meerutiya act well. Anushka Sharma does a forgettable Stephen Hawking. Katrina Kaif burns everyone around her… to borrow a line from Shah Rukh Khan, “She is soooo hot … that we have to keep her in a tub on the sets.” But beyond her ‘hotness’, Katrina Kaif is the usual Katrina Kaif in a Khan film.
The music of the film is a winner, with special mention to Husn Parcham and Heer Badnaam. The cameo by Salman Khan and Bollywood actresses from Sridevi to Deepika Padukone are forced into the film to add to its star power. But without legs to stand on, the superficial can do only so much and no more. Zero the film, like its lead character Bauua Singh, falls short. Don’t expect Zero to take you to Mars. Meerut, maybe.
Zero starring Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma and Katrina Kaif has hit the screens today. The film begins well and maintains pace in first half but is a disaster post intermission, says our review.