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ZERO - Why all talented directors start struggling & falter when it comes to a Shah Rukh Khan film? (Review by Bobby Sing)

21 Dec, 2018 | Movie Reviews / 2018 Releases

In 2011 while discussing and writing about ALWAYS KABHI KABHI, a film produced by Red Chillies Entertainment, I was told that a project drastically changes while in the making when Shah Rukh Khan is involved in it as a producer or lead actor. But having no solid proof or reasoning to believe it as a fact, I didn’t give an ear to it and ignored.
Then came RA.ONE in 2012 directed by Anubhav Sinha followed by DON 2 (Farhan Akhtar), JAB TAK HAI JAAN (Yash Chopra) and CHENNAI EXPRESS (Rohit Shetty) in 2013, creating a faint doubt which actually became serious watching HAPPY NEW YEAR (Farha Khan), DILWALE (Rohit Shetty), FAN (Maneesh Sharma), DEAR ZINDAGI (Gauri Shinde) and RAEES (Rahul Dholkia) reaching 2017.
However the doubt suddenly turned into reality with an evident track record when even one of the much loved and acclaimed directors of the recent times delivered extremely poor to mediocre films with Shah Rukh in lead as JAB HARRY MET SEJAL (Imtiaz Ali) and ZERO (Anand L. Rai) revealing it all. And ZERO surely made me understand why all talented directors start struggling & falter when it comes to a Shah Rukh Khan film due to the obvious?
In my personal opinion, this change of outlook by the King Khan must have begun post the box office result of the critically acclaimed CHAK DE INDIA and would have initially taken birth post the debacle of SWADES - the two films widely considered as the best of Shah Rukh Khan as an actor in his illustrious career. The surprisingly less favorable response to both must have disturbed him a lot as a thinking actor going for a change at a crucial time of his career. And he must have started taking deep interest in the subject, story-forming, script-writing and content of his films post these demotivating experiences. 
Having said that, another interesting aspect of this particular time period post 2008 related with Shah Rukh as a producer remains his brave choice of completely different and risky subjects off the routine, which somehow hasn’t worked till date and always failed in both their writing as well as execution for a reason.
The observation once again gets proved in his latest project ZERO, which is yet again a brave attempt mixing fantasy with realism moving away from the routine, but as usual turns out to be quite silly instead of any thoughtfully made project or something even close to be tagged well-tried.
In fact it’s really amazing or rather unbelievable to witness a name like Anand L. Rai, associated with films such as TANU WEDS MANU RETURNS, NIL BATTEY SANNATA, HAPPY BHAG JAYEGI, NEWTON, SHUBH MANGAL SAAVDHAN,  MUKKABAAZ, MANMARZIYAAN and TUMBBAD (as producer or director), coming up with a disaster as ZERO having such bizarre proceedings in it in the name of novel and experimental content unexpectedly.
To be honest, such is the ridiculous execution and writing of ZERO that it gives me no energy to write about it in details. So here the indications how it completely fails as a film made on a fresh and risky subject featuring three worth praising acts that remain unable to save the film from an immediate sinking.
First and the foremost ZERO fails as it uses the character of the dwarf only as a gimmick and nothing else in the entire film. Where APPU RAJA thoughtfully raised a question that why dwarfs are always taken for granted as clowns……. ZERO exactly does the same and presents a dwarf as a clown right from its first scene to the last so irresponsibly.
Moreover one doesn’t find any difference in Shah Rukh playing a normal guy and playing a dwarf in terms of his mannerisms or an act becoming the biggest drawback of the film by all means. Shah Rukh tries hard and impresses too in its various sequences but he never plays it as a dwarf at all except mentioning it repeatedly in his dialogues deliberately bringing in the context.
So ZERO simply fails as a film showcasing a dwarf as it remains least concerned about the character and never deals with it as a neglected or differently treated human being close to reality.
Further it fails at several levels in its writing as mentioned below.
ZERO fails in its outdated and so forceful names of its lead characters. Bauaa Singh can still be accepted as a small town local personality. But imagine a Bollywood actress being called ‘Babita Kumari’ in the present new-age world. I think the film wasn’t a period drama of the 50-60s. As a matter of fact not even the actual Babita ever dared to be called ‘Babita Kumari’ in her times. And then, so forced name of Anushka, amalgamating two different sects yet again bringing in ‘The Punjabis’ as an essential feature of today’s films.
Frankly, it seems the present mainstream Hindi cinema cannot conceive anything without ‘The Punjabi’ reference in it, which makes me mention two songs of the film too, wherein one borrows from a famous Daler Mehndi number and other from a popular Punjabi track of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan from Pakistan. Didn’t even check whether they acknowledged the original sources or not.
ZERO severely fails in its writing whenever Bauaa Singh keeps throwing money in the air and in the five star hotel sequences in particular. God knows from where he actually fetched that kind of money. The writing still works in flashes in the first half but strangely takes the viewers for a ride in the second, offering simply NOTHING either in terms of worth-praising innovation or the promised entertainment.
The poor storyline is actually a gender change of the same TANU WEDS MANU kind of plot with only the characters changed to a dwarf, a Bollywood heroine and a differently abled woman scientist (close to Stephen Hawking).
The writing also shows its limitations or bankruptcy of ideas, when it brings in a highly clichéd reference of a dance reality show taking you back to RAB NE BANA DI JODI which is already a decade old film presenting the same. Strangely the makers/writers still consider it a novelty. Plus here is a film in 2018 where a one-night stand still gives rise to babies as seen in the good old golden era.
As another drawback ZERO also displays how Hindi Cinema kills an actor with immense potential as Mohammed Zeeshan casting him as the hero’s comic friend in every other film.
It further fails in all its poor cameos where not even one actor or actresses is able to make her few seconds presence felt ranging from Abhay Deol to Late Sridevi due to a poor direction.
And then ZERO completely falls flat on the ground with its focus on training of Bauaa Singh at the space center, wasting precious minutes going into over length and literally taking the viewers for granted in the last few minutes.
On the other side, ZERO partially works in its VFX department and performances that range good to excellent and in its lighter moments of the first half too along with a couple of good songs. But the biggest shock comes in the likable acts where at times Katrina Kaif scores above her co-stars, who is not normally known for her acting skills. Anushka keeps trying hard despite being unconvincing and Shah Rukh carefully maintains a comic look throughout that certainly does the trick especially for his die hard fans.
On the whole, ZERO comes as one of the biggest disappointments of the year 2018 post films such as RACE and THUGS OF HINDOSTAN. However it still scores more than these two duds due to its merit of watchable performances and a partially breezy first half bringing smiles onto your faces at regular intervals.
So you can make your personal choice looking at the names involved, but I will still not recommend it to be watched at the cunningly increased ticket prices by the multiplexes. In other words, we would love to be taken into a mesmerizing fantasy world full of charming, adorable characters supported by an innovative writing. But as an intelligent viewers indeed and not as mere fools watching a film in the awe of its stars. In short, its a brave experiment gone wrong in a big way.
Hope the film brings in the much needed change in the career and thinking process of the King Khan and he takes it as an important milestone towards a new worthy journey beginning from a new ZERO.
Rating : 1.5 / 5 (including a big one just for the three lead acts)

Note : Following the same old exploitive practice, the ticket prices were yet again raised by the multiplexes for the film releasing before Christmas (falling on a Tuesday). 
Strangely where the Consumer Product Industry organizes MEGA SALES on festivals reducing their high prices, the multiplexes ironically increase the prices exploiting the unconcerned public. Now though the people might have accepted this timely exploitation without thinking of any revolt as such, BTC will continue the tradition of deducting a big one star from such films, not caring about their passionate viewers or end-users. 
Net Ratings of ZERO : 1.5 - 1 / 5 = 0.5 / 5 

Tags : ZERO Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, New Hindi Films Reviews by Bobby Sing, New Bollywood Movies Reviews by Bobby Sing, New Shah Rukh Khan film review by Bobby Sing
21 Dec 2018 / Comments ( 6 )

Itni kharab hai... so sad paa ji

Bobby Sing

Unfortunately, it was not up to the mark really Sandeep.
Keep Visiting and Writing in,

Vishnu Mahesh Sharma

Dear Bobby ji,
What does AE DIL HAI MUSHKIL has to do with SRK. His was just a single scene cameo in it. Or you are trying to say when Karan Johar is not teaming up with SRK, even he looks a mature film maker.

Bobby Sing

Yes Vishnu, You are right in catching that reference which should not be there in the list.
But for me even ADHM was not any mature attempt. You can read its review too at the site.

I have now removed the name. Thanks for informing me about the same.

Mustafa Raja

It hurted on Tigmanshu's dialogue...abbey tujh jaiso ko to ladka bhi na mile...tujhe to fir bhi ladki mil rahi hai...

Writing is actually Bauna. And SRK accepting such rubbish is surprising.

Bobby Sing

Yes, where SRK's choice of subjects is appreciable, his understanding of script is really questionable, which has repeatedly disappointed his fans in the last many years.
Hope he realises it soon looking upon all his ongoing projects.

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