Movie Review - The Zoya Factor: Missing the X factor

Nonika Singh

In India, cinema and cricket are akin to religions and luck is yet another driving factor that binds our collective consciousness. And when all three come together, you can only expect magic to happen. Alas, The Zoya Factor, based on Anuja Chauhan’s book by the same name, fails to recreate the wonder of any.

Indeed, the premise is rather interesting; a girl born on the day India won the historic 1983 World Cup transforms into the lucky mascot for the Indian Cricket team. But before we get there, before we are caught between the crossfire of two opposing viewpoints, whether luck can outplay hard work and talent we are subjected to a tepid pace and treatment. Even though Sonam Kapoor as Zoya is perpetually in the hyperactive Khoobsurat mode. Remember her as the irrepressible physiotherapist Mili who charms us and her way to her Prince Charming. Well, here too the ground is almost the same. A middle class girl, an awkward bumbling one at that she can only dream of dating India’s cricket Captain Nikhil Khoda. Who doesn’t know that they are almost like Gods and hence out of bounds for ordinary mortals?

But, as luck would have it, her job in an advertising firm brings her face to face with them. Inadvertently, she blurts out the truth we mean the coincidence about her birth and how she can make others win matches. And as in anything with high stakes, the role of serendipity can never be ruled out. So, how can the team going through a rough patch not believe in her miraculous powers? 

Thus follow a few interesting and some romantic moments too. However, what appears rather intriguing on the paper and even as we retell the tale, somehow is simply lost in execution. Till the first half one is only waiting for things to happen. There are attempts to make it light and breezy; even Anil Kapoor is roped in momentarily to up the humour which doesn’t quite work. Yes, the only X factor that we see here working is the charming Malayalam actor Dulquer Salmaan, son of superstar Mammootty. He makes this captain real and endearing. Other cricketers, especially Angad Bedi playing the part of his bête noire, too pitch in well. Though the film claims to be purely fictional, you can see how it draws from some of the real life players. The anger management issues of this Haryanvi player for instance…you are free to draw your inferences. Be it the locker room conversation or the cricket scenes, they appear authentic enough and the commentary has some zing. Of course, though heavily padded against the backdrop of cricket, this one is essentially batting for more than cricket. 

At one level, it’s a love story of the fairy-tale vintage. Then, there is its core; luck (read superstition) vs sheer grit and determination. Who will win in the end, no prizes for guessing? The fate of both the lovers and the cricket team is well sealed. Oops, did we say sealed and are we going against the grain of the film? As Badshah Shah Rukh Khan’s voiceover in the end tells us, ‘Luck mein toh aap ab vishwaas rakhte nahi hoge’. Are you kidding? He is expecting us to believe in just the opposite. Wish the film too could kid us into believing in the miracle of love and life. Here, it is far too staid. 

“En teen mahino mein meri life badal gai hai,” says Sonam as Zoya after she is idolised and consequently demonised as the mystical Zoya Factor. The two hours here certainly won’t change yours or fill it with fun and frolic. Watchable, provided you lower your expectations and are ok with humdrum instead of a humdinger.