'Kahaniyon mein suna tha ki mohabbat me Aashiq chand tak le aate hai, saale humne yeh baat seriously lein lee'. These words from the trailer echoed in my head as the end credits in Zero rolled on screen.
When you have one of the Indian cinema's biggest superstars teaming up with a master storyteller who has a knack for heartland stories, the expectation levels are bound to skyrocket high! Especially, when the man who is known to be epitome of romance takes up a role that's way different from his usual on-screen persona.
Zero leaves you with a bittersweet feeling. You walk out of the theatre in awe of the superlative performances, but your heart refuses to forgive the wobbly writing in second half.
Beginning with the plot, this Aanand L. Rai directorial opens in Meerut where the pint-sized Bauua Singh (Shahrukh Khan) drips arrogance and innocence with equal gusto and has his bestie (Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub) to watch his back when needed. Our hero harbours a crush on superstar Babita Kumar (Katrina Kaif).
Soon, Babuua meets Aafia Bhinder (Anushka Sharma), a differently abled scientist, through a matrimonial site. Under the pretext of seeking revenge from her for hurting his ego, he strikes friendship with her. Instead, sparks fly between them under the falling stars in the sky.
But Bauua being Bauua is clear in his head. 'Woh Mere Barabar Thi, Main Uske Barabar... Agar Uske Sath Hota Na To Zindagi Barabar Ke Katte, Par Zindagi Kaatne Kisai The, Humai To Jeene Thee."
Enter Bauua's crush Babita Kumar (Katrina Kaif), a superstar who hides her insecurities and heartbreaks in her kajal-smeared eyes. What follows next is how these three 'incomplete' people become 'Hero' from 'Zero'.
The first half of the film has some terrific rooted writing along with rib-tickling lines that are so relatable with his signature Aanand L. Rai style. It's a roller-coaster of emotions which strikes the right note. Unfortunately, the screenplay derails and goes haywire in the second half when the narrative moves to NSRA and our Meerut man goes on a mission to Mars.
Talking about the performances, Shahrukh Khan as Bauua Singh delivers one of his career-best acts and is unlike the SRK we have seen so far on screen. He effectively breaks free the mould of his stardom to play a character which is so relatable.
Meanwhile, Anushka Sharma leaves a lasting impression with her subtle performance despite the space contraint her character has. Finally, it's refreshing to watch Katrina Kaif in a role which explores her acting persona other than the glam quotient.
Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub, Tigmanshu Dhulia and Sheeba Chadha are at the sincere best.
Barring a few slip-ons here and there, Aanand L. Rai pulls up a commendable job when it comes to the VFX. The editing scissors could have been sharpened more.
Coming to the music, Mere Naam Tu leaves you spellbound with its visual grandeur and Ajay-Atul's soothing music. Shahrukh Khan reunites for Ishaqbaazi and it's their fun-filled jugalbandi which makes up for the lacklustre lyrics. Husn Parcham and Heer Badnaam flow with the narrative.
"Nazar Uttha Kar Dekho, Shayad Koi Sitara Zameen Pe Aa Gire." Zero drives home an important point which we often tend to neglect in our pursue for being a perfect human being. While the film has its heart in the right place, even Shahrukh Khan's cute dimples fail to pick up the faltering second-half when the writing goes haywire. I am going with 2.5 stars.