Zero is a dreamy romantic drama which is marred by sluggishness post the interval
In a romantic relationship, you do not have to act, talk or behave differently with the person you love. You can be yourself. You are loved for who you are. No matter what sort of ailments your lover has or even if they are differently-abled, you talk to each other just like any other romantic couple who are in perfect physical condition. You can even try and do anything to please the love of your life. All these are echoed in Director Anand L. Rai’s Zero which is an enchanting romantic drama where we dive into a marvellous love story involving Bauua Singh (Shah Rukh Khan), who is vertically-challenged, and his ladylove, Aafia Yusufzai Bhinder (Anushka Sharma), who is a scientist but is confined to her wheelchair due to a medical condition called cerebral palsy.
Zero sketches romance between an unusual pair and still makes it so fascinating to watch. The romance that builds up between Bauua and Aafia arrests you up until the intermission. From there on, it feels like the film is grappling with a humdrum phase until it again gets back on track towards the end. Bauua is a lively character in his late 30s (The spectacular performance of Shah Rukh Khan is a treat to watch and is definitely a testimony of his greatness in Bollywood). The film’s title symbolically refers to Bauua who is nothing but a ‘Zero’. He is a son of rich man and fools around with his friends (like the scene where he and his friends play around with rickshaw puller or the one where he throws off bank notes off his balcony) and is obsessed with a popular actress called Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaif). In contrast, Aafia (Anushka Sharma’s performance in this role is commendable) has helped a space research agency in finding water on Mars and is very successful on her own efforts.
With characters of such opposing nature, it was astonishing to see the romance blossoming between them. As Aafia gets down from her wheelchair, crawls on the floor and picks up the pen upon the challenge posed by Bauua, the expression of admiration and appreciation on Bauua’s face resonates with our own. I felt myself being dreamily lulled off into a musing fit as Bauua sings ‘Mere Naam Tu’ to impress Aafia outside her door (this is the only song in the composition of the duo of Ajay-Atul that I liked in this film which was complimented well by colourful choreography). In another instance of winning the heart of Aafia, we see him dancing to a song called Humko Tumpe Pyaar Aaya from Shashi Kapoor’s 1965 film Jab Jab Phool Khile. This was quirky yet so enjoyable. As Aafia explains how she feels like a ‘normal person’ around him when he talks to her without ever feeling sorry for her medical condition, we understand why she felt the affection towards him. When Bauua gets selected to travel in the spaceship for Mars exploration, it was heartrending to see the emotional interaction between him and Aafia moments before the spaceship takes off.
Cometh the Babita Kumari phase, cometh the feeling of boredom. Call it an underwhelming performance by Katrina Kaif as Babita Kumari or sluggish pace of narrative with the commencement of the second half, there was a definitive feeling of languidness. When Babita calmly asks Aditya (Abhay Deol), her boyfriend, to leave her house and says that she can convey that in different ways, it almost felt like a reflection of my inner thoughts when Aditya retorts by asking her that in how many different ways that can be conveyed by her. There were two instances involving Katrina Kaif which were really good (but not because of her). In a song called ‘Husn Parcham’, Katrina Kaif does look glamorous but it was Shah Rukh Khan as Bauua who stole the show where he energetically dances inside the movie theatre. And when Babita tells a fake story of her parents to Bauua, it was Shah Rukh Khan’s exemplary and expressive act that brings out the sentiment in us.
The friendship between Bauua and Guddu (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) was invigorating to see. The interactions between them remained funny throughout the movie. When Bauua decides to go to the U.S. and asks Guddu (who follows Islam in the film) to join him, it was insightful and jocular when Guddu promptly says that if a ‘Musalmaan’ can somehow get to America, then he is definitely ready to go with him. In another scene, outside the building of the space research firm, it was amusing when Guddu reminds Bauua that they are from Meerut (India) who eat Parle-G biscuits with tea. We sense the feeling of separation when Guddu starts crying and hugs Bauua moments before spaceship takes off.
Zero is one of those films where you do not want to dwell on the logic and you are happy to recuse yourself from doing so or else it would erase the fun out of the movie. So, as the title of the movie appeared on screen at the beginning against the backdrop of stars, it makes you fantasize and anticipate that the film would have something related to stars. And the movie is replete with instances of shooting stars. With a flick of Bauua’s finger, we see a shooting star in the sky and the beauty gets magnified as it comes during those beautiful romantic portions. Zero is a dreamy romantic drama which is marred by sluggishness post the interval.