‘ZERO’ had drawn the attention of the ‘Popcorn audience’ by its intriguing trailer and the hit melody ‘Uyire Un Uyirena’. The trailer promised that ‘ZERO’ is not going to be a usual horror film. The trailer and posters stated that it is a ‘Romantic thriller’, but the film actually is a surprising blend of too many genres including ‘romantic thriller’, ‘fantasy’, ‘horror’ and ‘psychological thriller’.
The film primarily revolves around a newly married couple – Bala (Ashwin K) and his wife Priya (Sshivada Nair). Priya is afraid if she would inherit mental illness from her mother, who died after giving birth to her. Priya begins to hallucinate, sleep walk, and also has dreams of her mother in another world; over a point of time, she is unable to differentiate between the truth and reality. Every day and every minute, she goes through hell-like mental tortures and pains. When Bala tries to diagnose / cure her, he finds that it is not just mental illness! What happens then forms the crux of the story.
Director Shiv Mohaa has made a very impressive debut, choosing to be different in every other aspect such as the novel plot and the way it is narrated. The film begins with a fascinating narration of how this world started and how that’s connected to the present-day events. The film gets straight into the story immediately, without wasting time on any deviations. Despite the slow pace, the film moves on a perfect thriller mode with scenes such as the theft at the super market, the missing Thailand fish, the dream with the mother and the dreadful white snake which keeps on building tension seamlessly.
The detailing on the psychological pains that Priya goes through has been written and filmed impeccably (though we feel its overdone over a point of time); I felt that no Tamil film had shown it in such a way in the recent time. Despite one or two boring moments, the first half was so captivating with a very good interval scene. The second half is where the problem began actually. When the screenplay kept on becoming more complicated / complex, the audience starts losing their interest to an extent (the song in the second half also looked inessential). There were some really horrifying moments, which were compensated with equally amateurish and flimsy moments (such as where Priya gets to the terrace & tries to threaten the city and the scene where Bala looks for the person whom he met at Super market). The faltering screenplay in the second half was the biggest minus point.
The film seemed to be glitch-less towards pre-climax, and the ‘Love vs Evil’ idea was too good in the end; but, the execution made it look so preachy and dramatic. Another biggest drawback is that such a script demands a romance track that is unforgettable, whereas the film had indifferent and filmy love scenes and dialogues mostly. One would wonder if the director is so much attracted towards the concepts of Christianity since it had too many allusions such as a lady who can’t get / isn’t pregnant is blessed with a baby, the Adam and Eve, the existence of the universe, Shaitan, etcetera! The director and team has to be appreciated for doing such an out-of-the-box fantasy script; with a crisper writing and better execution, ZERO would have been a remarkable film in the Indian film industry. This is not a film that might go well with the general audience, but is definitely worth experienced by people who love experimental attempts for what it holds! The extraordinary making, VFX and the production design for this budget is laudable.
Coming to performance, it was Sshivada Nair who rocked solidly! She was completely into the role, understanding exactly what was needed from her. There was no overdoing anywhere, and it was a perfectly measured performance! Way to go, Sshivada Nair!! (y) (y) Contrary to the lead female role, Ashwin K who played the lead male role did an inadequate job. His performance looked convincing in a few scenes, but his acting was a spoiler in most scenes where it was either an overacting or it was something less done; he actually looked confused, inconsistent and unstable in most of the scenes in the second half (the fake beard was a disaster). Though appearing in a repetitive role, JD Chakravarthy did a decent job. Other actors including Thulasi and Ravi Raghavendhar were good. Nivas Prasanna’s tremendous background score, Babu Kumar’s spectacular camera work, Sudharshan’s editing and the contribution by art direction and sound designing team were all appreciative.
Verdict: An audacious attempt with an exceptionally novel plot, which could have been much better!
Review by: Rahman
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