- Movie Name:The Zoya Factor
- Critics Rating: 2.5 / 5
- Release Date: Sep 20, 2019
- Director: Abhishek Sharma
- Genre: Rom-com
It would not be an understatement to call 'The Zoya Factor' 'The Pepsi Factor' -- for there is too much plugging of brands throughout the narrative. And -- apologies for the spoiler -- there is a song too -- 'Tujhe Pepsi ki kasam' -- that rolls through the end credits.
The in-house advertising, hence, seems a little off with a serious story going on in the background.
Did we say serious?
Oh yeah! The plot is serious. There's the India skipper who believes in hard work, and there's his team who gets suctioned into believing a clumsy damsel-in-distress is lucky for them -- so lucky that the bails won't come off the stumps and balls would be declared no-balls -- and there's the beautiful Zoya Solanki who the skipper starts flirting with as soon as he spots her.
Sonam Kapoor (Zoya), for the nth time, plays a girl-next-door, full-of-life and celebrating life (there's one scene where the handsome cricketer asks her why she was bursting crackers when India had lost the match and she replied she was celebrating life) in the nth movie based on cricket. What, despite that, sets the movie apart is the HANDSOME CRICKETER who has the world falling for him -- including this advertising industry professional.
Zoya (Kapoor), born on the day India won their first cricket World Cup in 1983, and hence, considered lucky for cricket, is desperately looking for a breakthrough in her advertising career, and love life, and meets Nikhil Khoda, captain of the Indian Cricket team, during a project in Sri Lanka.
Nikhil (Salmaan) repeatedly insists he doesn't believe in lucky charms. But India ki janata doesn't listen to him. And makes a devi out of a clumsy loser (as Zoya calls herself) much to his chagrin. Twist in the plot -- Nikhil had already begun falling for this loser girl, who was once dumped by a loser dentist. And her hurt ego stresses on the 'loser' part.
You see the plot? No? We feel you. Because there are too many plots to deal with in an over-two-hour run-time of the movie.
Anuja Chauhan's book of the same name remains, till date, one of the choicest-ly (if that's a word) written novels. What the makers, however, fail at here is a proper execution of the script. The second half scores in terms of dialogues. But till then, the damage is done and the audience is lost in translation.
The later half also scores in terms of Bollywood-ness, because there enter the villains -- Robin, a star batsman and former skipper, and his selector uncle -- who devise a plan to oversell Zoya and butcher Nikhil's "self-confidence". Double quotes, because that's what Nikhil swears by.
They succeed too. But then it's Bollywood. Zoya realises her folly and makes ammends. That's the good part.
The better part is Dulquer Salmaan. What a star he is!
Salmaan is bang-on with every expression of his. His charming screen presence makes you fall for his character. His anger, his frustration, his love for Zoya, and his belief in himself make you yearn for a guy like him in your life. And did we mention his six-pack? He seems to have imbibed the right genes from his superstar father, Mammootty.
Dulquer certainly grabs all attention every time he is on screen. All attention from his co-star too. We have seen his co-star, Sonam, in similar roles (remember Khoobsurat?) and there's nothing new she offers here -- except a newer and fancier wardrobe.
A word of advice to every filmmaker who plans to do a movie with Sonam next -- let's focus on her attire a little less. We know she's a fashionista, and we have been conditioned to believe that too. But it's time the world moves on. To better roles.
The not-so-good part about the movie is the dearth of some genuine humour. The movie is supposed to be a funny take on the superstitions in the cricket world. Or anything related to a larger public interest. But sadly, and unfortunately for the movie, most of the comic punches are delivered by two invisible Hindi commentators.
Zoya does often speak to the audience and indulges in self-deprecating humour. And calls herself a loser. And gives a voice to the thoughts in her muddled-up mind. But that's like chasing fun (read: a pun to chasing runs), and falling flat on the humour quotient.
Other members of the cast do fairly better. Sanjay Kapoor as Zoya's father is lovable; Sikander Kher as her brother is a revelation; Abhilash Chaudhary as cricketer Shivi (loosely modelled on Shikhar Dhawan) and Manu Rishi Chadha as the cricket board director do justice with whatever little instances they are required to perform at.
A special mention for Angad Bedi, who as Robin brings to the table, and the movie, the athleticism required for the role. He, out of the movie's wide ensemble, makes the most of the character sketch he is assigned.
Director Abhishek Sharma is no stranger to comedies. Having previously directed "Tere Bin Laden" series, Sharma falls for the sophistication in the story and fails to churn up the right laughs. He, however, doesn't falter in getting the cricketing milieu right.
The Zoya Factor could have been much better -- given the country's obsession with cricket and its stars. But it ends up being a random, erratic tale of sermons -- at the end of which a voiceover by Shah Rukh Khan declares the country learnt a lesson or two in hard work and luck -- because Team India won the World Cup. (Talking of sermons, there's a Chak De India's 70-minute-monologue-esque address in the movie by Salmaan.)
But did we? Of course, we did. How else can you explain a genuine star-in-the-making squarely getting overshadowed in a lousy screenplay (by Neha Rakesh Sharma and Pradhuman Singh)? That he makes the most out of it and shines in a forgettable love story is a different matter altogether -- perhaps, a testament to his talent.
We rest our case: The movie is no Zoya Factor (or Pepsi Factor, as we pointed out). It is THE DULQUER SALMAAN (the halki bhoori aankhein factor -- watch the movie to know why we say this) FACTOR.
OUR VERDICT: Two-and-a-half stars (extra half for Dulquer Salmaan). Can be watched once.