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By:  Sameer Fida Hussain.

A blood drenched lover, Raj, extending a hand to his ladylove from a moving train signaling the climax of an epic saga, A dutiful son Rahul showing us how “it is all about loving our parents”, an unconventional lover Raj Aryan questioning the principles of  Shanker Narayanan to enforce changes in Gurukul, a NASA return Mohan Bhargav devoting himself to alleviate the pitiable condition of the people in his homeland, a passionate Rizwan Khan set out on a mission to meet the US president and change the perception of people about his religion or a tainted hockey player Kabir Khan undertaking the job of coaching the Indian Women hockey team to prove his loyalty. These are some of the roles that flash through our mind when we think of Shah-Rukh-Khan- The king of romance.

Khan is again in news and this time for the love triangle “Zero” which also has Anushka Sharma and Katrina Kaif in the lead. The film revolves around the character of vertically challenged Bauua Singh played by Shah-Rukh-Khan. The funny dwarf meets two contrasting women who broaden his outlook and help him find purpose in life. Zero opens in Meerut where Bauua has repeated arguments with his father while his mother has a hard time shielding him.

The dwarf actor’s repeated attempts to find a match through a matchmaker yield no results. His life changes when he meets differently able ‘Aafia Yusufzai  (Anushka Sharma) – a space scientist who wants India to pioneer the global mission of sending a manned spacecraft to Mars. He considers the charming Aafia a perfect partner because she is the first girl whom he can look in the eye. For her, Bauaa’s advances are temporary diversions. Bauaa tries everything to impress Aafia – From dancing in Shashi Kapoor style on the tunes of HumkoTumpe Pyar Aaya to staging a romantic spectacle in the hotel corridor complete with colors and rain machine induced showers.

Bauua’s obsession with Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaif), a hard drinking, heartbroken movie actress, leads him astray. Just one day before his marriage to Aafia there is a twist in the tale as an inebriated Babita meets Bauua. This is when he turns his back on Aafia and scoots without a word leaving Aafia behind in her bridal attire – crestfallen and heartbroken.

Post intermission, the film loses the plot and fails to keep the audience motivated. There is one particular sequence where most of SRK’s female co-stars over the years get together to watch his antics.  Babita entertains a funny, amusing Bauua in her life and keeps him by her side as a chaperone. Gradually, she learns to mend her broken heart and tires of Bauua’s unrealistic notions about his place in her life.  He is thrown out of Babita’s life and high profile circle. Bauua transforms into a reformed man and realizes Aafia’s love for him.

In the end, he returns to Aafia and wins her back.

Shah-Rukh Khan has lived up to the expectations and his acting is one of the positives of the film. He gives his hundred percent to liven up “Zero” but the loosely knit plot plays the spoilsport. Only an actor like SRK could have essayed the conflicting shades of this character. Anushka Sharma as Aafia too has lived her character. She has decently played the role of a cerebral palsy affected scientist. Katrina Kaif has once again come up with a compelling performance which makes one believe that she can do more than just dance on item songs. She has perfectly played the role of an unhinged, alcoholic film star.  Director Anand L. Rai has done so well in many of his films but “Zero” fails to impress.

It is a mess which starts with a lot of promise but fails to keep the audience interested.  “Zero” is a fantasy ride that ends up nowhere. The writer, Himanshu Sharma, has failed to come up with a compelling story. His idea would have been to present a story where two differently abled people come together to complete each other but the inconsistency in the plot has taken the soul out of the film. The music of the film is decent. Ajay-Atul’s music and IrshadKamil’s lyrics have managed to enthrall the music lovers. The song “MeraNaamtu” is quite a beauty and reminisces us ofsome early SRK movies. It helped a lot in the promotion of the film.

Gone are the days when the presence of the Khans in a movie ensured the commercial success of a film. 2018 has not been good for Khans. Salman Khan’s Eid release Race 3 received negative reviews from the critics. Aamir’s Thugs of Hindostaan failed to impress the audience and the actor had to publically take the responsibility for the bizarre reception of the film. “Zero” opened to mixed reviews and underperformed on the first day of its release.

The negative word of mouth because of critics will surely hamper the film’s chances to gain big at box-office. Despite a robust promotional campaign and a solo release the movie has been unable to hold good at the box office. The film received a massive blow as it was leaked online on Tamilrocker. This will surely impact the box office business of the film. Earlier Amir Khans film Thugs of Hindostan too was leaked online. Apart from the sporadic funny moments and great VFX effects, Zero does not really have the punch that is required to pull off a film of this scale.  All in all, the film has flattered to deceive and will not pull you to the theatre the second time unless you are an ardent Shah-Rukh fan.

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