Times Of India
Critic’s Rating: 3.0/5
Zero Story: Bauua Singh (Shah Rukh Khan) is a vertically-challenged man from Meerut, who wears his heart on his sleeve. He falls in love with a scientist, Aafia (Anushka Sharma), who is affected by cerebral palsy. Their unlikely love story travels from India to the US and all the way to outer space too. Along the way, it meets with various interesting challenges as well.
Zero Review: A great concept needs an equally skillful execution, but not every good story gets the treatment it deserves. Zero has a story with an interesting and inspiring concept that doesn’t hold back with its outrageousness. This Meerut-to-Mars romance dabbles with ideas of science, interplanetary travel and closer to home, conventional themes like unrequited and undying love. In doing so, the film tries to put forth too many ideas and doesn’t quite do justice to any one. Some of the visuals and romantic moments are striking, but most of them disappear as quickly as a shooting star.
The story starts off in Meerut, where Bauua Singh squanders his father’s (Tigmanshu Dhulia) money while being besotted with Bollywood superstar Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaif) at all times. He is impulsive and self absorbed, but his height hardly ever dampens his confidence. Things change dramatically when Bauua stumbles into the highly qualified scientist, Aafia’s life. He’s vertically-challenged and she suffers from cerebral palsy, so their shortcomings become a common ground and that creates a new space for a relationship between equals. The physical challenges aside, their personalities are also worlds apart and that eventually heightens the drama in the plot. Somewhere along, Bollywood diva Babita Kumari makes an entry into Bauua’s life, adding to the drama. The film’s first half is spent on setting up this unconventional romance. While the ideas are unique and appreciable, the narrative doesn’t connect all the proverbial dots in the arc of the story. The plot of Zero, neither engages you, nor does it offend you.
The ideas get a lot more audacious in the second half. Bauua’s love story travels to Mumbai for a fantastic tryst with Bollywood. It’s here that cameos of B-town’s stars surprise you and one of the obvious highlights being the coming together of the two Khans – Salman and Shah Rukh – in the song Issaqbaazi. Moving on, the story travels to the US and goes on a Mars-inspired mission, too. It’s here that the graph of the movie and the characters just does not add up. The writing by Himanshu Sharma, has its moments, but it does not translate into the larger-than-life love story that it aspires to be. It swiftly goes hurtling out of orbit and at 2 hours and 25 minutes, the film definitely feels too long drawn.
The good part is that director Aanand L Rai’s characters never let their a physical challenges overpower their spirit and resilience. There’s no rocket science to the fact that Shah Rukh pulls off romantic moments and he does that here with charm and intensity. He is excellent as the short but charismatic Bauua in a story that relies highly on special effects. Katrina Kaif appears in a smaller part, but she totally impresses in the performance of a conflicted Bollywood star, who is also heartbroken. Sadly, while Anushka Sharma’s character had wonderful potential, the mannerisms employed by the actress to portray the handicap, don’t always look consistent or convincing.
The same inconsistency plagues the movie, too. At one point, Zero dazzles with moments of colour and vibrancy, but then it also follows up with dull scenes that fail to launch the drama in the zone that it’s supposed to be in. Some of the comedy moments between SRK and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub stand out, so does the song Mere Naam Tu with SRK dancing in a storm of colours. While the film has a wealth of references to Bollywood and its stars, these details don’t compensate for a story that starts with a beautiful plot, but takes off on a bizarre ride. At first go, the film makes you light and easy, which is good, but the problem is that it doesn’t really take you on that flight of entertainment, which you set out for.