Meerut to Mars: A stunted show

Zero

Hindi (U/A)

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif

Director: Aanand L Rai

Rating: **

Bauua Singh (Shah Rukh Khan) believes that big things come in 4 feet 2 inches packages. But his antics in this universe (and outer space) fail to lift the vertically-challenged plot. Gravity prevails. And Zero remains "grounded” despite its ambitious schemes, because it gets its arithmetic wrong.

Here, you have a devil-may-care protagonist who scoffs at karma because he is sure god can hardly do any worse than being stingy with inches. The 38-year-old makes several trips to the matchmaker to find an Aishwarya “Roy” of his stature.

From a romeo to a runaway groom to a man on Mars, Bauua is always in action, but rarely strikes a chord. No, Khan is not at fault. He is earnest as someone resigned to his fate, but is also a live wire, swinging situations in his favour. The trouble lies in the ambitions.

Zero reaches for the stars. The hero can, in fact, swipe stars across the sky with his fingers, just like screen lock patterns on a mobile. So, there is a lot of twinkle-twinkle-shuttle-star happening above Meerut, where our man unleashes some cosmic conspiracy. And that takes him to Anushka Sharma, a space scientist with cerebral palsy. She oversees a Mars mission, but fails to foresee her future with a matriculate who makes up for his dwarfism with his tongue.

Anushka contorts her face and distorts her speech, but never gets the medical condition right.

Meanwhile, a million bucks Katrina Kaif quietly enters her comfort zone and steals much of the show. She springs a surprise as ‘Babita Kumari’ — the Bollywood queen nursing a broken heart with gallons of alcohol. Kaif is all natural, after her break-up with a certain Kapoor (Abhay Deol, please come back).

The first half is breezy, with a cocky SRK doing kickass stuff with friend Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub. The innocent charm soon gives way for some unpalatable glitz lined up in the form of Kajol, Karisma Kapoor, Sridevi, Rani Mukerji, Juhi Chawla, Alia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone (gasp) — all led by sore thumb Salman Khan.

Zero celebrates imperfect people. And Shah Rukh Khan remains the best lover in business. But in the end, all that the viewer can relate to is the chimpanzee — hours of training to board the rocket to red planet, but finally denied a ticket.

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Meerut to Mars: A stunted show

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