With a setting ranging from Meerut to Mars, this Aanand L. Rai directorial seemed exorbitant on potential, having some interesting themes on its platter like dwarfism, space fantasy, human vulnerability to explore. Sadly, the pieces of puzzle here were mindlessly joined, making the end product a mere pointless experience.
What couldn’t let the dots get connected aptly was a heavily flawed writing by Himanshu Sharma (who previously has hardly disappointed) alongwith a half – baked screenplay, making actors and situations pop up and mould in the narrative as per the convenience, to escalate the mass appeal. It’s sad a realization that no dominant member associated with this ambitious project ever noticed what they were finally delivering to the audience.
Featuring (the) SRK striving to break the superstar sculpt to huge extent, we are subjected to his act as a 4 ft 6 inch dwarf namely Bauua Singh, with some supernatural powers and an irresistible charm. Because he’s the Hero, he eventually just gets the ladies he meets swooning over him, despite his clingy personality, typical Meerutiya lingo, and some borderline cringy antics. He is so great a human that he manages turning up at every location where his heroine is (what the security!). In addition, enduring all the Zero Gravity conditions comes naturally to him. Yet, it’s hard to deny that the actor is still a charmer who does ably carry this whatever narrative given to him on his shoulders, with an on – screen presence so impeccable.
I first time saw a ‘trying it hard’ act by Anushka Sharma as Aafia, the wheelchair bound NASA (changed to NSAR in the movie) scientist; and still ain’t able to digest that she failed so miserably in her delivery. I otherwise find her range very diverse right from the loud Shruti (in ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’) to the controlled act she excellently performed in her recent ‘Pari’ and even ‘NH10’. Her character had so much to offer, and she does create the impact to some extent; but where she fails to score is exactly where Kalki won with her act in ‘Margherita with a Straw’. I inevitably compared the antics of these two characters, which makes Anushka’s performance easily seem one of her worsts, as nothing can surpass her torturous act as Sejal (in ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’)!
An unexpected factor working big time for Zero is Katrina as Babita Kumari, an emotionally affected superstar, who is acting in real life too to hide her ‘inside the doors’ vulnerable self. Yes, she gets the quintessential item number to her introduction, but what follows it is a much convincing performance, though an extended cameo. Being quite a revelation and a welcome surprise, it is indeed much different from her memorable and natural act in ‘Namastey London’. Unapologetically my favorite part about the movie, her performance is still getting me ponder over if she can really emote this way in her future projects too.
The prime cast is well – supported by Zeeshan Ayyub being the Hero’s best friend (again) who accompanies him everywhere except Mars, Tigmanshu Dhulia as the dwarf’s frustrated father, who though in real life is two years younger than SRK, and the hilarious Sheeba Chaddha playing the dwarf’s mother. The appearances of actors not mentioned above are a worthy surprise!
To compensate for the umpteen flaws is a neatly done VFX which escalates the visual appeal of the movie several levels higher. The ‘Zero Gravity scene’ work stands out in this department. The dialogues by Himanshu Sharma got me grinning in the first half but lost their magic later. It seems that he stopped making efforts once the setting shifted away from North India. From the soundtrack by Ajay – Atul, only ‘Mere Naam Tu’ and ‘Heer Badnaam’ suit the narrative, rest look out of place. I was eagerly waiting for this release as a glorious redemption from the lead trio of SRK – Anushka – Katrina this time, who last collaborated in the snoozefest ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’; and primarily wanted this to work for SRK and Anushka, considering how terrible their every romance (read : ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’ and ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’) has been. To my dismay, the disappointing streak of these apparent evil forces’ collaboration continues with Zero too.
In its runtime of around 165 minutes, this highly anticipated affair ranged my takeaway from frivolity to cringe, plunging perpetually with each act. What could have been atleast my great guilty pleasure had everything worked, ends up being a colossal cringefest from Meerut to Mars.
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