We would have all had that one chubby friend in school and years later, plus-sized friends/peers. In a level-headed group, plus-sized friends are unlikely to be subjected to jibes. But in the world at large, where airbrushed reed-like figures are considered ideal, there is pressure to conform to certain sizes and shapes.
Size Zero introduces us to Soundarya, fondly called Sweety (Anushka Shetty), who has always been on the heavier side. As a child, she takes heart from what her doting father (Rao Ramesh) tells her — that happy girls are the most beautiful. Subsequently, she is shown wolfing down anything from a jalebi to an ice cream, as though happiness stems only from food.
As she grows up, she is taunted for being overweight. The father is long gone and the mother’s only worry is to find an NRI groom who wouldn’t mind her surplus size. The drama reveals a number of characters, each one turning out to be a bit of a caricature. A diabetic grandfather keeps shoving plates of jalebis and laddus to pep up his granddaughter; a younger brother sells lingerie to women (enough window for inane humour); a friend who is slim but wants to lose more weight to participate in a beauty contest; a prospective NRI groom who obsesses over carbs at night (Aarya as Abhi); a model-like NRI (Sonal Chauhan as Simran) who finds her calling in a clean India campaign but would rather have slum dwellers do the dirty job, and the owner of a slimming centre (Prakash Raj as Satyanand) who mouths philosophical lines to those who are glad to be fooled. A quack astrologer/godman (Brahmanandam) is thrown in for good measure.
The first hour of the film is ridden with clichés. There is no sane voice that would nudge Sweety and tell her she is beautiful as she is, but taking a moderate approach to fitness would benefit her in the long run. If such a sane voice had existed, this story wouldn’t be there in the first place.
Director Prakash Kovelamudi and writer Kanika Dhillon narrate Size Zero from the context of a family that doesn’t know better. The story is predictable. You know which way the romance will go and the ensuing heartbreak which will make the feisty protagonist give a serious thought to weighty issues. The surprise comes in later, when, instead of taking a melodramatic approach, the story gives enough bandwidth to blow the lid off the secrets of slimming centres.
After showing many plates of kheema samosas, laddus and jalebis, the film emphasises there is no short cut to fitness and any size is beautiful. While doing so, the film comments on manipulative television shows, and how society itself has to take the blame for falling into the trap of losing weight without breaking a sweat.
Size Zero is fun at places, tiring at others. A lot lies on Anushka Shetty’s shoulders. Utterly charming and a treat to watch, she comes up with one of her best performances.
Aarya does his part with grace and sidesteps, letting her bask in all the attention. Sonal Chauhan gets a meatier role than she normally does in hero-centric films and does justice to her role. Prakash Raj is given a role that’s meant to annoy and he does that well. Urvashi befits the part of a hyperventilating mother.
The film has its heart at the right place in terms of what it wants to convey, but if only it had been done in a smarter, more entertaining way.
Cast: Anushka Shetty, Aarya, Sonal Chauhan and Prakash Raj
Direction: Prakash Kovelamudi
Music: M.M Keeravani
Bottom line: Anushka steals the show.