Casting: Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif
From fantastic to dense, crackling to insipid, grounded to OTT — Zero is a film that swings incredibly before getting completely spaced out to qualify being called one from Mars. Quite a journey from Meerut to Mumbai, you would say. But it is King Khan, no longer king, returning to the screen after virtually two long years of absence, so the ups and downs were expected.
Whatever you might say about this film having a rather ambitious premise, there is no denying the fact that the VFX used to show SRK as a char-foota is picture perfect. But why SRK, the bauna called Bauaa so frequently strips into his kachha-baniyaan is bewildering, as is the diluted climax which takes him all the way from his humble abode in India’s small town to no less a planet than Mars, rocketed into outer space by his wheel-chair-bound, cerebral palsy hit girlfriend Afiya Yousufzai (brilliantly played by Anushka Sharma) whom he ditches for superstar Katrina Kaif erroneously called Babita Kumari! Who can call Katrina, especially when she comes laced with a sizzling star’s demeanour who thinks she is too fair to need make-up or long clothes for that matter, be called Babita Kumari of all the names?
But that’s just one of the many quirky faultlines in this film that was otherwise so full of potential, especially with SRK out to cash in on his god-gifted dimples, his sense of humour and his seething repartee, powered by his angst at being born several inches shorter than what is perceived normal.
You settle down and chuckle along with all of SRK’s jokes and mannerisms which he has thrown at you for more than a decade before veteranising himself into Bollywood irrelevance.
Thanks to all the SRK wit and his power to empower even the most insipid of films, the first half passes off in an enjoyable jiffy, what with most of his leading ladies (Juhi, Kairshma, Kajol, Sridevi and Alia) making a cameo in trying to applaud his magic of plucking stars from the skies on a count of 9 to zero.
But him reaching America to get back to Afiya and then she hating him enough to pack him off in a rocket to a place as far away as her hurt could push him, Mars the second half of the film which gets caught in lack of gravity issues. Both director Anand Rai and SRK try hard but fail to stop the script from hurtling into insanity and disbelief — and finally Mars as the audience ring their hands in frustration of a good film and effort having lost the plot.
But SRK is fantastic as a dwarf. Anushka excels with her disability too and Katrina sizzles as she is meant to. But somewhere between these three superstars making their presence felt, the story sadly curls up like a dog battling cold — despite the familiar funny one liners and the familiar wit rounds you expect of SRK.