The Zoya Factor Movie Review: The missing 'X' factor

Updated: Sep 20, 2019, 13:48 IST | Mayank Shekhar |

Sadly the makers of The Zoya Factor are unable to decide if they're making a realistic rom-com, dramedy, or just a plain and simple parody of what's already a rather preposterous premise.

Zoya Factor poster
Zoya Factor poster

The Zoya Factor
Director: Abhishek Sharma
Actors: Sonam Kapoor, Dulquer Salmaan
Rating: Rating

I know Sonam Kapoor, being as squeaky, ditsy on screen as possible, isn't quite Renee Zellweger; or Julia Roberts, for that matter. And while one's aware of actor Dulquer Salmaan being quite the female heartthrob down South, his screen presence doesn't obviously match the immensely natural ease of, say, Tom Cruise, or Hugh Grant.

But this script, below the surface-level, I suspect, had the makings of two rom-com classics, Jerry Maguire (1996), and Notting Hill (1999), that continue to warm/charm moviegoers across generations, in love with the idea of that uncanny, funny kinda love.

The former film, because this one is also set in the world of sport—cricket, to be precise. The latter, because it involves a semi-commoner, getting involved with a massive star/celebrity (the captain of the Indian men's cricket team, no less), which poses its own set of quirky and stressful moments.

Sadly the filmmakers here are unable to decide if they're making a realistic rom-com, dramedy, or just a plain and simple parody of what's already a rather preposterous premise.

Which is that a minor ad-exec comes into contact at work with the Indian cricket team for a commercial photo-shoot. Her presence with the playing-11 turns out to be a lucky charm of sorts, apparently guaranteeing an Indian victory, if she has breakfast with the team, or cheers from the pavilion box. The whole country has instantly bought into this superstition. As has the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI).

Hard to believe as this is, no knock on the idea still (on paper). But how do you play this. Ideally? Straight. Rather than a severely tacky spoof, of an existing spoof, that starts out in mockumentary style, with the lead character Zoya (Sonam) talking straight to camera. A Rajiv Shukla type character heading the BCCI. The cricket captain (Dulquer) at loggerheads with his deputy (Angad Bedi), while we look at the all-important World Cup, within movie-budgets of less than an IPL game.

Speaking of which, full marks to producers for capitalising well on much in-film branding—Pepsi, Cadbury's, Nerolac, Finolex, etc.—that fit in quite naturally with a film set in both the ad and cricket world. Never mind the overall production design/quality, though.

Sure, there are moments, and several of them work here. But there's already an issue if the cricket commentators in the movie have infinitely funnier lines that ones spoken between characters. At some point this combined green-screen mess begins to grate on your nerves.

To be fair, director Abhishek Sharma is no Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire). Neither is the script Richard Curtis grade (Notting Hill). But Sharma's handled original comedy brilliantly, with solid satires Tere Bin Laden (2010), and Tere Bin Laden: Dead Or Alive (2016) before.

Zoya Factor is based on author Anuja Chauhan's 2008 bestseller by the same name (haven't read the book). The film puts together a bunch of fine Juhu talents—Anil Kapoor in cameo, Sanjay Kapoor as father, Sikander Kher as lead character's brother… What appears missing is the X factor (or elusive chemistry) that usually elevates a movie of any genre—regardless of everything else.

Watch the trailer of The Zoya Factor here:

Not that there is any correlation between a bestseller and a blockbuster. Depends on who's making it—Atul Agnihotri (Hello) or Raju Hirani (3 Idiots), both based on Chetan Bhagat books. That said, Zoya Factor is pure chick-lit. Maybe it doesn't quite target me as a core audience. Possible. Movies, like team-sport, relying on multiple variables, eventually needs a whole lot of luck to sail through, and reach where it must. We wish this the best, of course. They'll need it.

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