“Zero”… This very literal flight of fancy is the year’s most audacious love story

Posted on December 23, 2018

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Spoilers ahead…

Read the full review on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/zero-review-baradwaj-rangan-this-very-literal-flight-of-fancy-is-the-years-most-audacious-love-story/

In Aanand L Rai’s Zero, Shah Rukh Khan plays the vertically challenged Bauua Singh — though in one extraordinary scene, he seems to be playing himself. Earlier in the film, we have seen Bauua perform this trick. He begins counting down from ten — a precursor to him actually being part of a countdown to zero — and at the end, he swipes the sky as though it were a tablet and he was moving to the next screen. And lo, a stationary star slips out of its place and shoots across the darkness. He attempts this again at a party graced by Bollywood celebrities, but look carefully and you’ll see it’s not a lazy Om Shanti Om-like homage to stars on earth. From Sridevi (Army) to Alia Bhatt (Dear Zindagi), they’ve all been Shah Rukh Khan’s co-stars. They gather around Bauua to see him perform his trick. He tries and tries. The stars above don’t budge. Is it the 38-year-old Bauua (who keeps emphasising his dimples and stretching out his arms in love) who’s suddenly lost his power? Or are we seeing the fiftysomething Shah Rukh Khan, now in a well-acknowledged career crisis, unable to recreate the magic he once did, with the likes of Deepika Padukone and Juhi Chawla?

One of his heroines in this film is Anushka Sharma. She plays (rather showily and inconsistently) a space researcher named Aafia, who’s afflicted with cerebral palsy. The character’s profession reminds you of Shah Rukh’s in Swades, and her unusual-for-the-movies condition is something like the Asperger’s syndrome we saw in Shah Rukh, in My Name is Khan. (The latter film also appears to inspire a laugh-out-loud terrorist-themed joke from Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, who, as always, gets to play the best friend.) But if you think we’re in for another Fan-like disquisition on a star’s stardom, consider that Anushka’s teary wedding scene brings to mind the one from Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Or that the screen goddess Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaif), too, blurs the line between true-life and on-screen fantasy. Babita gets a Sheila ki jawaani-like item song (the very catchy Husn parcham, sadly not used in its entirety). But she’s had a bad breakup with a “Kapoor”, to whom she says, later, “Main pari hoon.  Band kamre mein par nikal aate hain mere.” (I’m an angel. I have wings.) Now, recall the Zoya Akhtar segment in Bombay Talkies, where Katrina played… an angel, with silvery wings. And what does one make of the dance competition reminiscent of the one in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (a film that starred Anushka), except that, this time, it’s to impress Katrina? Could it be no accident that these heroines were chosen to star opposite Shah Rukh so that we’d remember Jab Tak Hai Jaan as well?

Continued at the link above.

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Posted in: Cinema: Hindi