Enough has been already said and written about the movie Zero. Still recovering from the shock of the weird plot (or the lack of it) I, an otherwise die hard SRK fan restrained myself from writing a review on it. But if there is something that irked me more than anything else in this movie, it was the portrayal of Aafia Yusufzai Bhinder, the leading lady played by Anushka Sharma.
Now Anushka is one female lead in Bollywood whom I had always adored for otherwise portraying realistic, strong female characters. If you watch any of her own productions like NH10 or Pari you would applaud her courage as well as the acting. But, somehow whenever a Khan comes into the picture she seem to let down her guard. So here she is, a super intelligent being, a world renowned NASR scientist (a fictionalised depiction of NASA), and a woman with cerebral palsy, who, despite her physical condition is leading the Mars expedition project. Commendable indeed!
Yet, only marriage can complete a woman it seems. So she gets herself listed in some random matrimonial agency. Huh!
Well, then enters our ‘hero’, Babua Singh, a class 8 pass, 4 feet something man, crazy for a wedding, who thinks he deserves nothing less than a quintessential diva. So her pretty face interests the good for nothing fellow who rushes in with a marriage proposal only to back out on seeing her in a wheelchair, stuttering while giving a speech. So what does he do?
Like any sane, good natured guy, he leaves quietly. No! He makes a scene, insults her, calls her names and occasionally sings a song for her. And boom! She falls in love with this rude, classless guy. So much so that when he dumps her after a one night stand she stalks him and arrange a wedding, getting his parents on her side. Not so intelligent after all.
Now comes the best part. Babua Singh again decides to dump her, now at the altar, because he is taking part in a dance competition! And what does she say to stop him? “Mein tera barabar tu meri barabar”(“We are equals.”)
Noooo! An irresponsible, illiterate, jobless man is not equal to an intelligent female scientist even if she has a disability. In a country where people worship Bollywood, such misogyny should stop immediately. It isn’t her fault that she is a woman with cerebral palsy. She does not need to degrade herself to such a demeaning level only to get married. That is not love. It’s insecurity.
Well, the discussion could stop here, but no, the writer had more in store for us. Going forward, it is revealed that Aafia has a suitor in Madhavan, a scientist working with with her on the Mars project. So she gets engaged to him, only to dump him at the altar because she deserves nothing more than Babua Singh, who is now on a space shuttle replacing ‘chimp’ for the Mars expedition!
The film was wrong on so many counts, but, nothing irked me more than the injustice shown to a person suffering from cerebral palsy. In a country where disability is still frowned upon and women still trying hard to get the equal opportunities they deserve, such movies draw us in an even more backward direction.
Grow up Bollywood, it’s high time you start celebrating a woman’s brain, without focussing on the perfect figure.
Sreeparna Sen is a Banker by profession. A Computer Engineer by education, she is a
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