Continuing with the trend of the common man as the hero in Hindi cinema, Shah Rukh Khan's much-awaited thriller is about the inevitable meeting of the two—the 'zero' and 'hero' and how that changes their lives.
Whether you are a fan or not, in this film, Shah Rukh Khan, the star, gets to become Shah Rukh Khan, the actor
Gaurav Chanana is a young cyber cafe owner in a middle-class Delhi colony who longs for meeting his lifelong idol, Aryan Khanna, with whom he shares similarities including a physical resemblance. Helped by his parents, Chanana consolidates his own fan base by enacting scenes and songs from the star's films to entertain their neighbours in a local talent show.
One day he embarks on a journey, romanticised in his head, in the idol's footsteps, ticketless, from Delhi to Mumbai on the Rajdhani train, even shacking up in the same beaten down hotel as him on his arrival in the city of dreams.
But when Chanana feels spurned by his hero who 'fails' to live up to the platitudes he has heard him spout in his films, the stars explode in his eyes. Unable to draw boundaries, fascination turns into obsession. Here, you're reminded of Khan's previous roles in films such as Darr and Baazigar where he has played the fixated lover who stops at nothing.
The story picks up pace in the second half when the star's nightmare begins, as the fan plays out his game. It shows how the work of a lifetime can come to hinge on the turn of one's reputation and there is sweat behind every shine.
The film also highlights social networking as the common man's weapon and the role of the media in the interplay of society.
Don't expect sleek action scenes as the fan makes his escape from the police across crumbling building facades but there is some later, filmy style, in the latter sequences when the twain meets. The long chase sequences between the two, perhaps symbolic, could have been snipped in real time.
At 143 minutes, the film could also have been less indulgent and more tightly edited.
Whether you are a fan or not, in this film, Shah Rukh Khan, the star, gets to become Shah Rukh Khan, the actor. He plays a double role with his trademark intensity that possibly comes closest to his own real and reel life. That of a loose cannon, wide-eyed fan as well as a fatigued but persevering super star. It could be one of his best roles in a long time.
Director: Maneesh Sharma
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan
Rating: 3 / 5