Zero Movie Review - Film: 0; VFX-SRK: 1
Zero jerkily jostles between heartland, rustic realism, and a far-out romantic fantasy, vaguely along the lines of SRK's Om Shanti Om. The only takeaway is how tough it must've been to pull this off.
U/A: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Director: Anand L Rai
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma
For a couple of decades now, relentlessly citing exceptions like Swades (2004) and Chak De India (2007), viewers (and fans) of actor Shah Rukh Khan have often complained about how he plays SRK on screen, regardless of the script, which pretty much is designed around him playing himself, in some form or the other, anyway.
Alert to this obvious feedback, and with audiences, in general, upping its expectations, even from wholly star-driven pics—demanding a certain level of authenticity in stories regardless—you find SRK trying hard to up his own game. Which is great, of course. Raees (2017) and Fan (2016) are relatively good examples on that front. With Zero, as actor-producer, he appears to be trying a bit too hard, I suspect.
For one, this SRK film doesn't star SRK at all! He plays a Meeruthiya, uneducated 'bauna' (dwarf) Bauua Singh, obsessed with two women, almost simultaneously. Both ladies seem out of his reach. One's a fully celestial Bollywood heroine. That's Katrina Kaif. Tells you a lot about this film that she comes across as by far the most credible character around—a heart-broken drunk, dumped by a certain superstar with the surname Kapoor, who "pretends to be a misunderstood, shy type, but is actually a full-on ch*****."
Check out the trailer here:
The other woman (Anushka Sharma), strangely modeled on Stephen Hawking, in a high-tech wheelchair, her mouth contorted, wrist twisted and shaking, is a space scientist. She meets the vertically challenged dude through an odd, offline version of a matrimonial site. What she likes about him is that he can overlook her disabilities and see her as the person she is, rather than somebody one must simply sympathise with.
There is much banter between the two. This is tricky stuff. I understand that all humour is at the expense of some person/group or the other, and we mustn't get all too sensitive about such matters. But I just felt slightly discomfited throughout—mostly in anticipation of a poor joke, punching downwards, rather than one that actually occurs (expect tonnes of think pieces on the web soon though!).
As a viewer, you are rarely made to look beyond the fact that she suffers from cerebral palsy. More so, that he's about a foot shorter than usual, a man-child at the centre of this film— in his late 30s, wholly jobless bloke, blowing up his father's money. You can't tell if he's a duffer or just a dwarf. As if the two were even vaguely related. He is supposed to be a die-hard romantic. Your heart must melt for this simpleton still.
It's hard, if not impossible, to feel anything for such a parody of a person, as Zero jerkily jostles between heartland, rustic realism (Aanand L Rai's Tanu Weds Manu), and a far-out romantic fantasy, vaguely along the lines of SRK's wonderfully sorted Om Shanti Om (2007), also partly set in show-biz. You're in fact bored rather than bothered by all the travels on screen.
The only take-away is how tough it must've been to pull this off. Which is true for films of this massive scale—regardless of the emotional payoff. The VFX work, cutting down SRK's size, is by itself a work of art. And that's just a fraction of the craft and cost involved in a picture perennially on a flight of imagination—whether the penny drops, or not.
Guess it'd be impossible for filmmakers to attempt a leap of faith so high, without quite convincing themselves that they're on to a masterpiece. One hopes (for them), others feel so too. Clearly, I didn't.
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