“ZERO” is optimistically artistic and immensely engrossing!
Shot aesthetically with merely a handful of frames, this heart-wrenching transformational story makes for a genuinely feel-good short film. Despite a predictable plot and minor recording flaws, the film is overall a riveting 15-minute experience that’s definitely worth a watch.
The story revolves around the life of an impoverished orphan boy, running a shabby little tea stall on the highway, just 10 kilometers shy of Nanakheda. Hundreds of vehicles pass by daily, but no one stops by his stall for a glass of tea. His miserable life sustains on the waste food that people throw out of their cars or some old biscuits rotting in his shop. But his luck changes overnight, when a drunk man mischievously does something odd. This blessing in disguise changes the life of the young boy for good.
There are several nuances in this film that deserve appreciation. Writer/director Mihir Mahidar’s ability to express so much with such less words is truly commendable. Also, the fact that he keeps you engulfed in the proceedings as simple as these, is yet another achievement. The little boy’s daily chores are presented skilfully and the time passage is depicted with great adeptness. The frames captured are limited, but the impact is just appropriate. There’s hardly a moment that lets you digress. So captivating is the screenplay.
Talking of the flaws, you can see the twist in the tale from a mile away. Not accurately, but you do get a broad idea of what’s coming. But that predictability takes very little away from the overall experience. I also observed gaps in sound recording, when the matchstick rub was mute and so were most parts of the act where the boy imagines he’s making tea for a customer, while he actually wasn’t. This could’ve been called nit-picking in a normal film analysis, but in a short film like this, where there are hardly any words spoken, sounds are key. I also found the background score a tad pretentious.
Nevertheless, these shortcomings hardly dent the solid accomplishments of this film that convincingly teaches us to hope against hope. It shows that there’s always a silver lining and that persistence is the key to success, as you never know when an opportunity comes your way. The sense of this film is so strong that you can’t help but feel and live the protagonist. There are several other points that the film makes. The most obvious being the power of ‘ZERO’. Then in the marketing sense, it proves the significance of “product placement”. Spiritually it enforces your belief in the fact that patience pays rich rewards and that everything which happens, happens for the good.
The performance is the major draw here. All the effort on the technical front would’ve gone in trash if the protagonist did not render the character aptly. But the young boy Irfan Khan (Chillar Party fame) does a fine job of an underprivileged yet hopeful orphan, struggling for survival. His expressions speak heaps, and despite hearing his voice only towards the climax, his presence is resoundingly felt throughout.
In all, ZERO is a compelling film that wins your heart and gives you hope. Watch it this weekend and you’ll genuinely love the 15 minutes you spend on it.