The Zoya Factor Review (No Spoilers): A Good Old-Fashioned Rom-Com

Happy movie! Don’t watch if you don’t like rom-coms. Do like if you do watch rom-coms. Follow those simple rules, and the world will keep spinning.

Sorry sorry sorry, I missed the first 10 minutes! I am almost positive that there was no SRK physical cameo in the opening, but there was definitely a voice over and now I can’t report back on it. The voice over came back at the end, and it was fine. If you are desperate for any SRK fix, this is an option. But more importantly, you should watch it just because it is a pleasant well-made movie. In fact, I suspect Shahrukh agreed to the voice over because he also believes this to be a pleasant well-made movie.

Image result for the zoya factor poster

Here’s a surprise. Going into this, knowing the one sentence plot description (Captain of the Indian cricket team and the average girl who becomes the teams lucky charm fall in love), I assumed it would be a “they fight and then they fall in love” kind of story. But it’s not that, instead it is a “they fall in love like normal people do with ups and downs and talking” kind of story. Isn’t that refreshing? A bit of a problem because it means Sonam struggling with more dialogue than she needs, but still worth it because it breaks down the usual dynamic of mistakes and misunderstandings and self-doubt that keep the hero and heroine apart for increasingly unbelievable reasons until they FINALLY admit their feelings in the last scene.

Also better than expected was how the cricket part of the plot was handled. The last third of the film is about the ridiculousness of our heroine’s life once she is thrown into the Cricket world. Crazy fans, silly ad campaigns, and this intoxicating power and popularity all mixed together. The film goes all in with some fun little bits and pieces and really great visuals.

It’s really the first third where there is the biggest problem. When we are getting to know everyone and Dulquer and Sonam are doing their initial flirting, plus the “lucky charm” idea is first introduced, it feels a bit arduous, like “when do we get past this and to the good bits?” Then all the plots hit into gear and start clicking along, the romance feels more special, the Cricket bits get fun, and it’s all just stupid entertaining. And heck, that’s what most romances are like, right? You need to know the hero and heroine separately so you can better appreciate them together, but at the same time it feels like you are just marking time until the hero and heroine meet and the plot actual starts.

This is a great getting to know the hero and heroine song, I wish they were all this good!

The very very best rom-coms manage to make you care about the hero and heroine even before the plot starts, but that’s a high standard. This film does it’s best by loading the cast with fun supporting actors. Also, HOT supporting actors! Gotta love a movie aimed at the female audience. Is Dulquer to short and southern for you? No worries! Have an Angad Bedi and a Sikander Kher. Too young? Here’s Sanjay Kapoor being a supportive loving single parent! Or if you like Dulquer just fine by himself, check out him smiling, flirting, giving sincere speeches, and just generally being almost-but-not-quite-perfect, because perfect is boring.

Sonam is the weakest link in the film. But she still isn’t the worst possible option. For one thing, her look is right. Sonam looks like a pretty normal girl, not someone where you think “how are people not stopping and starring every time she walks by?” Anushka would have been another good choice, or Taapsee. Pretty enough to be confident in herself and believably attractive at first glance, but not so beautiful that it seems like it would be the first thing people would notive. And so long as we are talking about Sonam’s appearance, she seems curvier in this than in her previous films. But she is very VERY good at dressing herself, and so it doesn’t matter at all. I only noticed it briefly in one shot in one outfit and then I saw it because I was looking for it, otherwise I wouldn’t have noticed. Dressing yourself well is an important skill for a public figure, especially a woman, and I think it’s kind of lazy when actresses are cast for being a certain body type or face instead of folks realizing you can make them look however they need to look with clothes alone. That’s another point in Sonam’s favor, she is able to let her clothes do the talking for her in her performances. Combine the clothes and her look and a pretty good character match to her natural personality, and we have one of the stronger Sonam roles.

Dulquer is far better in this than his other non-Malayalam roles that I have seen. He is relaxed, he is charming, he is confident. He still struggles a bit with Hindi, a lot of significant dialogue is in English. I suppose that could also be because it is based on an English language novel, or just that this class of people would legitimately speak “Hinglish”, but it kept distracting me. And Dulquer doesn’t really bring his a-game. I know he is capable of doing more than “and now I smile charmingly, and now I wrinkle my brows in boyish confusion” kind of performance. It’s not required for the role, or the film, but he could still be better. I don’t think this is going to be what rockets him to Hindi stardom.

The songs aren’t remarkable, neither are the lead performances, the general camerawork and visuals are workmanlike but not astounding, the plot is mostly predictable, it’s all a solid but not top level movie. But, again, if you like rom-coms, you will enjoy it. And there is that Shahrukh voice over. Weigh your options, if you want 2 hours of pleasant fluff with a happy ending, you should go see it.

(one small bit of film history and connection I want to mention. Shammi’s “Junglee” song complete with “yahoo” is referred to many times. Which is mostly a nod to Shammiji. But it’s also a little tip of the hat across the generations from Sonam’s family to Shammi’s. Shammi’s wife Geeta Bali is the one who gave the Sonam’s grandfather his start in the industry, early on his films used to have a placard thanking her. And now 54 years after Geeta died, her generosity is still remembered by the granddaughter of someone she helped. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence. But I like my version)

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6 thoughts on “The Zoya Factor Review (No Spoilers): A Good Old-Fashioned Rom-Com

    • I figured she was either pregnant or trying and it messed with her weight. Which would be a happy happy thing, of course. Anyway, interesting that the interviews acknowledged it! So I wasn’t just imagining it.

      On Sun, Sep 22, 2019 at 12:27 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Like

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