The Common Man Speaks

11Feb/191

Amol Palekar’s fight for freedom of expression goes back to the Emergency

The country witnessed a brutal attack on freedom of expression yesterday when veteran actor and filmmaker Amol Palekar was interrupted from sharing his views at an event at the NGMA (National Gallery of Modern Art) in Mumbai.

The Chhoti Si Baat actor was politely voicing his dissent on the decision of the Ministry of Culture to scrap the advisory committees of local artists at the NGMA’s branches in Mumbai and Bengaluru.

However, he was repeatedly interrupted in his speech by the NGMA director Anita Rupavataram and the curator of the show and ex-chairman of the organization Suhas Bahulikar. They urged him to stick to the topic, which was about the work of the renowned artist Prabhakar Barwe. But Palekar stood firm and voiced his opinion as much as he could saying that his comments are related to the NGMA itself.

Read about the whole incident by clicking HERE.

Watch the whole incident in the video below:

The incident was enough to trigger continuous reactions of the citizens on social media. Palekar has been receiving support for his right to express himself while those who tried to supress his voice have been heavily condemned. The most common sentiment shared is that if a veteran artist can be supressed of freedom of expression, what to think of common people like us?

But amid this, Palekar is also accused of being ‘selectively’ against the current BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government, as is evident from various comments on social media. These people seriously need to take a look at his past activism.

Amol Palekar

Palekar, like many other actors, started off with theatre in his younger days. Apart from honing his acting skills, he also used the medium to mark his protest against the Emergency imposed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of the Congress party.

I had the good fortune of interviewing Palekar last year for the web portal Cinestaan.com where I currently work. He was speaking while remembering his friend and fellow actor Hemu Adhikari, who had passed away a day before.

Palekar and Adhikari were a part of the parallel theatre movement then. During the conversation, Palekar shared how they used to stage thespian Badal Sircar’s Juloos, which was their way of protesting against the Emergency.

“One of the most cherished moments of my career in theatre was when we did Badal Sircar’s Juloos. It was produced by Bahuroopi, which was Hemu’s group. And I was the guest director. It was during the Emergency that we thought of doing this. That was our little protest against the Emergency,” he had said.

In fact, Palekar, Adhikari and the rest of members even showed the guts of performing their anti-Emergency play in the drama competition held by the state government itself. “We used to get this kick by performing it in the annual state drama competition, which is organized and funded by the government. It was our personal kick that we wanted to perform it there. We were very clear in our minds,” he had said.

Palekar also added that their first performance of Juloos was also attended by underground opposition leaders like Mrinal Gore and others. “It was a proud moment for us that we were able to do this in theatre as our expression and fight against censorship and any kind of curtailment of freedom,” said Palekar.

This piece of information is also enough to create laughing stock of the Congress leaders who have come out in support of Palekar for their own political gains. They too are clearly unaware of their own history.

You can read the whole interview by clicking HERE.

By: Keyur Seta

8Feb/190

Bhaai: Vyakti Kee Valli Part 2 Review

Director Mahesh Manjrekar’s Bhaai: Vyakti Kee Valli, the biopic on the legendary artist Purushottam Laxman Deshpande aka Pu La Deshpande, is released in two parts in a span of about a month. It is not often that you see this in India. Ram Gopal Varma’s Rakht Charitra (2011) and Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs Of Wasseypur (2012) are the only recent names to emerge in memory.

The Purvardha or the first part concentrated on the happy-go-lucky Deshpande’s (Sagar Deshmukh) commencement as a literary figure, theatre personality, music composer and his second marriage with Sunita Bai (Iravati Harshe).

The Uttarardha or the second part is about the events that take place in his life after he becomes not only an established artist but also an icon of Maharashtra. Hence, aspects like his social work (with Baba Amte) and political stints also get a mention here.

To put it simply, the second part of Bhaai continues the good work of its predecessor. This doesn’t come as a surprise after having enjoyed the first part. The journey picks up from the time Deshpande starts his one act play Batatyachi Chaal, which later goes onto become historic.

Just like the first part, we are presented with a compilation of important and relevant events revolving around the protagonist in a thoroughly light-hearted manner. Of course, the second part has more emotional moments, especially since it covers Deshpande’s ailing health that led to his death. But the feel and mood remains the same.

In an important sequence, fellow literary great Vijay Tendulkar is seen urging Deshpande to start mirroring the stark realities of society in his work. But he politely refuses saying he just wants to make people happy. This ideology of his is seen in the narrative of the film again.

Bhaai: Vyakti Kee Valli P L Deshpande

Deshpande’s relationship with his close ones is one of the highlights of the film. His unusual yet strong bond with his wife Sunita is one of the most sensible portrayals of a married couple in a long time. His friendship with fellow artists like G D Madgulkar, Vasant Kanetkar, Bhimsen Joshi and Kumargandharva reaches another level during the classical mehfil. The opening credits song ‘Indrayani Kathi,’ written by Deshpande and sung by Joshi, is also a pleasure to the ears.

Also read: Bhaai: Vyakti Kee Valli Part 1 Review

The film also touches the sensitive political side of Pu La’s story. After supporting the Janata Party during its opposition to the Emergency, Deshpande warns of speaking against them after they gain power in case they turn out to be the same as the previous government. Later, Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray (Sarang Sathaye) gets offended when Pu La criticizes one of his statements despite accepting an award from his government.

The execution of the aforementioned incidents is sensible and mature and at the same time doesn’t let the film move out of the entertaining zone.

One might argue or feel that any story should have a definite aim for the protagonist, which is missing here. But such conventional storytelling isn’t possible in this story simply because Pu La never planned anything in life and just went with the flow, one incident at a time.

The narrative does threaten to suffer at one point in the second half, especially when the character Barkya (Girish Kulkarni) turns up and displays his antics. This is the only questionable moment in the film.

The main cast continues its good work from the first part. Sagar Deshmukh shows the same consistency while exploring the latter period of Deshpande’s life. He once again thoroughly lives the character. The same goes for Iravati Harshe’s mature and high quality act as his wife.

Shubhangi Damle also gets a good amount of footage as the older Sunita Bai and she is phenomenal. Vijay Kenkre also does justice to the older Deshpande. Sarang Sathaye stays firm in your memory with his convincing act as Thackeray despite having just two scenes.

Overall: Bhaai: Vyakti Kee Valli Purvardha (Part 2) gives an impressive end to the life story of one of Maharashtra’s most loved personalities.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Mahesh Manjrekar

Producers: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Mahesh Manjrekar Movies

Writers: Ganesh Matkari and Ratnakar Matkari

Cast: Sagar Deshmukh, Iravati Harshe, Shubhangi Damle, Vijay Kenkre

Music: Ajit Parab

Genre: Biopic/ Drama

Duration: 130 minutes

3Feb/190

Kala Ghoda Festival 2019 Photos

Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2019

It's is the first weekend of February, which is reserved for Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. It's that time of the year when the art enthusiasts in Mumbai gather for the 9 day festival [another Navratri?] that celebrates arts.

And like every year, I am here with a pictorial tour of the festival at South Mumbai.

The Kala Ghoda street is once again filled with a number of art structures of various shapes, sizes and meanings.

Here are they:

Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2019

Also see: Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2017 Photos

28Jan/190

Book Review: Decoding Life Post 8/11

Demonetization will continue to remain a significant event in India’s history even decades from here on. The announcement of the sudden banning of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 rupee notes and inclusion of the new Rs 2000 notes by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi came as a shock to many.

But it the announcement provides scope for an interesting plot twist. This has been explored in few movies. Now, Demonetization is also used by author Indranil Roy’s latest novel Decoding Life Post 8/11.

The story of the book takes place in Kolkata in 2016. It revolves around the young man Arjun who is about to flee with his girlfriend Meher. However, the sudden announcement of Demonetization destroys their plan.

Arjun is forced to return to the murkey world of his ex-girlfriend Nisha, a friend more than a brother in the form of Sunny and his evil boss Shamim. But that’s not all, Arjun is forced to tackle some unexpected and dangerous challenges.

The name and the description in the end builds an expectation of a thriller revolving around Demonetization. It also gives an idea that the book will most probably be critical of Demonetization.

Decoding Life Post 8/11 book cover.

But that is not exactly the case. Demonetization just plays in the background after the main story is triggered by it. The characters are shown troubled by it but it also turns out to be a boon (can’t reveal more to avoid spoilers). In other words, it maintains a balance and neither criticizes nor applauds.

This doesn’t turn out to be a disappointment, thankfully because of the reading experience. Decoding Life Post 8/11 is a fast paced drama with regular twists and turns. Even for a slow reader like me, it finished fast. 

Roy has smartly woven a social issue of a guy mentally harassed for his effeminate ways and a love triangle, with the Demonetization continuing to play in the background. Apart from being a thriller, the book also goes onto the emotional track but without losing the grip.

The author's language is to-the-point and simple. This surely works in the favour of the reader. However, you can't help but feel for a more creative narration in some parts where the writing starts becoming similar to a film script.

Also somewhere the local feel of the place the story is set in (parts of West Bengal) is missing a bit.

Overall: Decoding Life Post 8/11 is an interesting dramatic thriller that is also high on emotions.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Author: Indranil Roy

Genre: Drama/ Thriller

Pages: 257

Price: Rs 299

Publishers: Leadstart Publishing

27Jan/190

Does Thackeray hint at Shiv Sena’s changing relationship with Congress?

Director Abhijit Panse’s Thackeray, the biopic on the late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, is garnering various reactions from the audience and critics. But here is an attempt to read between the lines of the film’s content with retrospect to the current political stand of Shiv Sena.

Thackeray shows the supremo’s journey from his early days as a cartoonist. From that time itself he was a staunch opponent of the Congress. As an artist and a politician, Thackeray was never known to mince his words or sketches against anyone, including Congress and its leaders.

But surprisingly, the movie doesn’t feature Thackeray’s hatred for Congress through any of his speeches or conversations. Of course, Shiv Sena’s protest against the then deputy Prime Minister Morarji Desai gets a good footage. But that was a key incident, so that couldn’t have been skipped. Other than that, Thackeray isn’t shown speaking or acting against Congress.

The 1995 Maharashtra Assembly Elections were the first time that Shiv Sena came to power through a coalition with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The mammoth task of the coalition was to defeat Congress for the first time. So, it is obvious that speaking against your main opponent becomes your important task.

But that is not shown in Thackeray. Surprisingly, Shiv Sena’s road to the 1995 State Elections, which was their first major success, is hardly given any importance. Without showing any moment of their journey till the results, we are abruptly shown a scene of Shiv Sena workers celebrating the victory.

One of the highlights of Thackeray’s career was his fiery speeches at Shivaji Park, which were keenly awaited by his supporters as well as opponents. But strangely, the film doesn’t feature any of his speeches. Most of his speeches always targeted Congress. Was this the reason to omit it?

One might argue that the makers wanted to play safe. But it is not possible to buy this argument for a film that openly speaks about the party’s role in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.

Now, let us see why such soft stand against Congress gets more interesting. Since recent times, senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, who is also the film’s producer and story writer, has been showering praises at Congress, the Gandhi family and its President Rahul Gandhi, of all people.

Thackeray movie poster

Less than a week ago, Raut said, “Rahul Gandhi has always been mocked. But we cannot forget the sacrifices made by the Gandhi family for the country. If you do not agree with his policies, then criticise him, but do not make personal attacks. Personally, I am against this type of politics. He has never given false promises.” (Read the whole statement HERE)

Priyanka Gandhi’s decision to enter active politics few days ago met with sarcastic jibes from the opposition. But Raut had other views. Speaking about the decision, he said, “It’s a good decision by Rahul Gandhi. The people of India have always had a relationship with the Gandhi family. Indira Gandhi's legacy will always remain strong in this country, Congress will benefit from this.” (Read the whole statement HERE).

The praise for Rahul started last year when Congress lost the Gujarat state elections to BJP after giving a tough fight. Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamna hailed Rahul for being ‘Baazigar’ (indicating that he lost elections but won hearts). These are just few examples though.

For those not in the know, Shiv Sena has been throwing a volley of attacks against BJP, their ally both in state and centre, in recent years. In words one would only use for the opponents.

I have come across people and articles claiming that it was Congress that provided massive secret support to Shiv Sena during its early days so that the latter would help wipe out communists from Mumbai (then Bombay). But Shiv Sena leaders have never been comfortable with this question.

However, Thackeray, the film, shows no qualms in showing this relationship between Shiv Sena and Congress.

So, is the party paying back to the Congress for their initial help going by the recent heavy praise? Or is it just to score brownie points against your ally-cum-enemy BJP? And did we see a glimpse of it in the movie?

By: Keyur Seta

14Jan/191

Hardik Pandya comments: We are channelizing our anger in the wrong direction

Let me get this straight. The motto of this article is not to defend Hardik Pandya or the comments made by him on Koffee With Karan. I personally found them not only disgusting but also worrying; thinking how many more people would be out there with such cheap mindset towards women.

But there are few things that I find too weird, which hardly have been pointed out ever since the controversy erupted.

1. K L Rahul is needlessly punished for no fault of his. It was Pandya who made all the misogynistic comments on the show. Rahul is no way responsible for what his partner on the show said. On a lighter note, he has become the Fardeen Khan of No Entry (2005).

2. If it is bad to make such comments, it should also be equally offensive to laugh and enjoy them. This is exactly what Karan Johar did as a host. But nobody is lashing out against him. How enjoying such comments is not offensive but just being a co-guest is?

3. Most importantly, some of our politicians and people from the government have openly verbally attacked women through the most disgusting statements you can come across. However, they are spared of such 24/7 hatred and innumerable articles.

Hardik Pandya on Koffee With Karan episode

Actually, they should receive more backslash since they have been given the responsibility to govern and protect us. How people don’t get so offended or worried when an elected representative makes such statements is beyond me.

Have a look at the following statements and decide for yourself:

“I am also a goonda. I will shoot you guys if a Trinamool Congress worker is ever attacked. If you have the guts, then stop me. If you insult the mothers and daughters of Trinamool workers, I won't spare you. I will let loose my boys in your homes and they will commit rape.” – TMC leader Tapas Pal slamming the CPI.

“If they (girls) want freedom, why don’t they just roam around naked?” – Haryana Chief Minister from BJP Manohar Lal Khattar

“Boys are boys. Mistakes happen.” – Samajwadi Party Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on increasing number of rapes

“She is 100% ‘tunch maal.’” – Congress leader Digvijay Singh on a female party member

“Have you ever seen a girlfriend worth Rs 50 crore?”- India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi while describing the late Sunanda Pushkar

“These days it has become a fashion to have a girlfriend or boyfriend. A girl should go out only with her brother or husband.” – Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi  

Ask yourself, was there even 20% of outrage for any of these comments like it has been for Pandya’s? Are a cricketer's comments more worrying or the ones made by people who are responsible for women safety?

By: Keyur Seta

13Jan/190

The Accidental Prime Minister Review: Propaganda is not the problem here

Debutant director Vijay Ratnakar Gutte’s The Accidental Prime Minister is based on the book of the same name by Sanjaya Baru. The author was the media adviser of Dr Manmohan Singh, India’s former Prime Minister.

The film mainly focuses on how Singh (played by Anupam Kher) was ‘remote controlled’ by the then Congress party President Sonia Gandhi during his tenure as the PM from 2004 to 2014.

The big question before and after the release is not whether the film does justice to the book. The curiosity is about whether the film is a propaganda machine against the Congress and in favour of the ruling BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party).

There is absolutely no doubt that it is indeed that, as suggested by the trailers. But this is not the problem with the film. I personally believe that anyone has a right to make a film on any subject while advocating any ideology. It should be left to the audience to decide what to accept and what not to.

The problem with The Accidental Prime Minister is that it makes the propaganda look too obvious and in-your-face throughout.

Even if the creative minds behind the film hate people like Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, they should do justice with the characters. Even the cruellest of villains deserves to be portrayed in a believable way.

Over here Sonia (Suzanne Bernert) and Rahul (Arjun Mathur) are nothing more than caricatures. The former, especially, reminds you of the amateurish performances seen in stand-up comedy shows. Surprisingly, even BJP leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee (Ram Avtar), India’s ex-Prime Minister, Lal Krishna Advani are not spared from being caricaturish. Priyanka Gandhi (Aahana Kumra) is the only believable real character.

The other motto of The Accidental Prime Minister was to show Singh as a pawn and a victim of party politics. Kher does fairly well but tries too hard to present Singh as a bechara, both in terms of the physical attributes and the voice. His manner of moving his hands while walking is a put off.

The Accidental Prime Minister poster

During one of the interviews for the film, the director said that they have ‘added’ scenes to link one incident from the book to another in situations where Baru couldn’t have been present. But some conversations in these scenes are difficult to believe.

For example, once Rahul speaks to Sonia in Italian in front of their senior party members. This instantly reminds you of the old ‘Italian’ jibe at the mother-son duo by BJP leaders. And why will be do that in front of others? Similarly, Kapil Sibal’s press conference where he denies the Coalgate scam appears unintentionally hilarious.  

The disclaimer at the start states that the film is made purely to entertain. However, the aforementioned points ensure that even if you wish to look at the film just as a film you can’t because the makers have gone overboard in advocating their political narrative. Featuring heroic real speeches of India’s current Prime Minister Narendra Modi doesn’t help either.

This is where Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar (2017) differed. It made its stand clear against the Congress party but didn’t go overboard in proving the same.

The Accidental Prime Minister does have something for those who are deeply knowledgeable in the politics of that period. But this remains mostly in the first half. The post-interval portion suffers from a disjointed screenplay. As a viewer, at times you don’t realize which year is going on.

Amid all this, the only silver lining is Akshaye Khanna’s performance as Sanjaya Baru. He comes up with one of his finest acts while playing a character that offers a lot of scope. He ensures that your interest is maintained even when The Accidental Prime Minister keeps meeting with accidents.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Vijay Ratnakar Gutte

Producers: Pen Movies and Bohra Brothers

Writers: Mayank Tewaari, Vijay Ratnakar Gutte, Karl Dunner and Aditya Sinha

Cast: Anupam Kher, Akshaye Khanna, Suzanne Bernert, Arjun Mathur

Genre: Political Drama

Runtime: 150 minutes

6Jan/191

Bhaai: Vyakti Ki Valli Review – Delightful biopic on P L Deshpande

The end of last year saw an impressive biopic on Marathi theatre’s superstar Kashinath Ghanekar in the form of Ani… Dr Kashinath Ghanekar (2018). Less than two months later, the life of Purushottam Laxman Deshpande, one of Maharashtra’s most loved personalities, is portrayed on screen through Mahesh Manjrekar’s Bhaai: Vyakti Ki Valli.

Although both films are about the life of a yesteryear artist from Maharashtra, they are hugely different simply because of the vast dissimilarities between the two personalities.

Bhaai: Vyakti Ki Valli is the first of the two part films that traces the life of Purushottam Laxman Deshpande aka Pu La Deshpande aka Bhaai. Born in 1919, he (Sagar Deshmukh) was a multi-talented personality. Although he was mostly known as a legendary humourist, he also excelled as a music composer, singer, theatre and film actor and script writer. Despite becoming a lawyer, Deshpande was always inclined towards music, theatre and literature.

He marries Sundar (Mrunmayee Deshpande) as his late father (Sachin Khedekar) had promised her father of the same. Unfortunately, she dies just a week after their marriage. He then finds love in the school teacher Sunita Thakur (Iravati Harshe) while being employed in the same school. How Deshpande follows his dreams with Sunita’s support forms the rest of the film.

Bhaai focuses on Pu La’s personal life (maybe the second part will feature more on his career). It follows a light-hearted and humorous method of storytelling, which is a reflection of Pu La’s character and literary works. His real-life incidents are interesting enough to be told in a movie form in 119 minutes.

During this duration, important personalities and incidents are recreated albeit with creative liberty. It is a delight to see the likes of Bhimsen Joshi (Ajay Purkar), G D Madgulkar (Sagar Talshikar), Kumar Gandharva (Swanand Kirkire) and Vasantrao Deshpande (Padmanabh Bind) together with Deshpande in the golden era. But one appearance that takes you by pleasant surprise is the child version of Bal Thackeray.

Bhai P L Deshpande biopic

This is a film where there is a lot of onus on the writing. Ganesh Matkari’s screenplay is fast paced and well-knitted. You get no time to think. Ratnakar Matkari has ensured that the dialogues are not only humorous but they play a role in making the character of Pu La believable.

Bhaai is very much in the Harishchandrachi Factory (2010) zone. That film was also a light-hearted affair about a late celebrated artist (Dadasaheb Phalke). The major difference is that the 2010 movie only focussed on Phalke’s work-related goal (to make India’s first motion picture), which also provided with conflict.  

This clearly isn’t the case with Bhaai. In fact, it won’t be wrong to state that the film challenges conventional storytelling by not aiming at any specific goal of the protagonist and not relying on any major conflict (although there are a few conflict elements) to keep you hooked. The effect of the content is ably complemented by Manjrekar’s presentation, which is way different from his other films.

However, the simplistic mood should have been done away during the climax. It would have been better if the first part had ended with some dramatic moment instead of a song. Nevertheless the incredible track ‘Kanada Raja Pandharicha’ does ensure that you move out with a smile.

Despite the content, a lot relied on Sagar Deshmukh’s performance as Pu La in creating the overall effect. To put it simply, he has literally lived the happy-go-lucky character of the late great. He makes sure that he appears likeable even when he acts being immature or a bit irresponsible.

Iravati Harshe has been giving commendable performances in the last few years. She has continued her good work here too by fitting in perfectly as an independent woman. The film has quality supporting acts and cameos from a lot list of actors including Ashwini Giri, Purkar, Talshikar, Bind, Kirkire, Sachin Khedekar, Hrishikesh Joshi, Mrunmayee Deshpande and others.

Overall: Bhaai: Vyakti Ki Valli Purvardh (Part 1) is a biopic that will leave you delighted even in case you don’t know anything about Pu La Deshpande.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Mahesh Manjrekar

Producers: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Mahesh Manjrekar Movies

Writers: Ganesh Matkari and Ratnakar Matkari

Cast: Sagar Deshmukh, Iravati Harshe, Ashwini Giri

Music: Ajit Parab

Genre: Biopic/ Drama

Duration: 119 minutes

30Dec/180

Simmba Dialogues

Rohit Shetty's Simmba has succeeded in entertaining the audience. The Ranveer Singh starrer has proved to be a perfect single screen entertainer. Apart from Shetty and Ranveer, the dialogues also played a big part in it.

Writer Farhad Samji has once again been able to tickle the audience's funny bone. So, it's really worth revisiting some of the funny moments from Simmba in the form of its dialogues.

Here are some of the best dialogues from Simmba uttered by Ranveer (feel free to add more in comments):

- Je mala mahit naahi te sanga. Tell me something I don't know.

- Mind eej blowing.

- Chand pe paani aur barf ka pata lag gaya hai. Ab sirf wahan daaru le jana baaki hai.

- Mera koi bhai nahin hai. Lekin woh toh tera bhi nahin hai.

- Yeh mera style kahan hai? Yeh Bajirao Singham ka style hai.

- Mohile, Mohile, Tere bina main kaise piyun?

- Yeh Kalyug hai. Yahan sab sirf ek hi matlab ke liye jeete hain. Apne matlab ke liye.

- Main policewala bana paise kamane ko. Robinhood banke doosre ko madat karne ke liye nahin.

21Dec/180

Zero Review – The film stays true to its title

Director Aanand L Rai is known for making light-hearted entertainers based in small north Indian towns. His latest and much talked about Zero is also an entertainer revolving around a character based in a small town up north.

But the difference this time around is that his protagonist is a star like Shah Rukh Khan. With the presence of a well-known actor, the film is also much larger-than-life than what Rai’s films have been so far. Unfortunately, the film’s scale is inversely proportional to what it offers.

Zero is the story of 38-year-old Bauua Singh (Shah Rukh Khan). He forms a large group of commoners of Meerut but his life is far from regular. As he is a dwarf, he is unable to get married. On top of that, he is a careless individual who loiters around with his best friend (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub). This is enough for Bauua’s father (Tigmanshu Dhulia) to hate him.

His life takes a turn when he meets Aafia (Anushka Sharma). She is a brilliant mind but is wheelchair bound since she is suffering from cerebral palsy. But later on, the superstar actress Babita (Katrina Kaif) also enters the life of Bauua. Where is his life heading?

Zero starts on a fairly positive note. The introduction of Bauua Singh and his world gives rise to some hilarious situations and conversations. It is SRK’s presence and charm that wins you over not only during these moments but the entire film. His act is a mixture of absolute dedication and hard-work, be it during some street smart funny moments or scenes where he gets depressed.

Rai has also extracted quality performances from Anushka Sharma, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub and Tigmanshu Dhulia. Sharma overcomes the challenges of playing a specially challenged character, although a lot of creative liberty has been taken.

Zero movie poster

Ayub has played the protagonist’s friend in quite a few films in recent years, but he brings in something different every time. He has achieved the same here. Katrina Kaif isn’t as bad as a lot of her past films. But her character lacks the right amount of depth and conviction.

The music of Zero rides on the moving romantic number ‘Mere Naam Tu’ and the enjoyable ‘Ishqbaazi’ (which features Salman Khan). The rest of the songs too are decent.

However, the performances and songs are no way enough for the large number of negatives. It would be apt to say that Zero has 0 logic. If Bauua wasn’t so much in love with Aafia, why did he spend more than a bomb on her to impress her? By the way, Bauua belongs to a strictly middle class family but spends money like water. How? Nobody knows.

Despite such flaws, the first half is still decent. But Zero suffers a bigger blow when Babita’s character enters the scene. Whatever happens from here on can is too dumb and mindless [not revealing further to avoid spoilers] even by the standards of typical masala entertainers. The ending moments do offer some thrill but the damage has been already done.

It is very important in films with such storylines to generate at least some empathy for the protagonist. But over here you feel for Bauua only because of Khan’s performance. The VFX team has done a decent job with respect to making SRK look like a dwarf, barring few moments here and there.

Overall: Zero makes you wonder as to how SRK agreed to be a part of the project as an actor as well as a producer when he badly needs a successful film riding on impressive content. This film might get a good opening in the first weekend but will struggle after that at the box office.

Rating: 2/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Aanand L Rai

Producers: Red Chillies Entertainment and Colour Yellow Productions

Writers: Himanshu Sharma

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub, Tigmanshu Dhulia

Music: Ajay-Atul

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 159 minutes