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It’s hard to fathom how a children’s film centering on a superhero can work if it is not interesting and enjoyable. That’s Zokkomon – a film that simply fails to engage the audience. The lackadaisical approach is abundantly evident in the screenplay, which makes the movie tedious. In short, Zokkomon is a botched attempt to make a children’s superhero film.

Zokkomon is the story of an orphan, Kunal (Darsheel Safary), who is randomly summoned to live in a small town by his greedy, cruel uncle, Deshraj (Anupam Kher). This is the least of Kunal’s problems. Deshraj runs a school where the children are terrorised and thrashed and where Deshraj uses the government funding for personal use.

To get his hands on Kunal’s money, Deshraj takes the boy to the big city, abandons him there, pretends he is dead. But Kunal finds his way back and returns to free the townspeople from superstition, especially the children, by becoming a pretend-ghost/superhero Zokkomon. He is helped by a strange scientist, whom Kunal addresses as “Magic Uncle” (also played by Anupam Kher).

This has got to be the first film where a make-believe ghost undergoes vigorous training to become a ghost. And to top it all, he dresses like a superhero! Though the film is aimed at kids, it has nothing to keep them engrossed; neither does it have any masala to keep grown-ups interested.

Apart from lack of engagement, the film drags throughout. It seems the writer and director had no clue to handling the scenes in this movie. More specifically, they had no clue to linking one scene to another. As a result, the film is awfully jerky, not only in the story and screenplay but also in the way it has been shot. The screenplay is not adequately depicted and is terribly sketchy.

Director Satyajit Bhatkal takes too long to establish a scene. Besides, there should have been more scenes with Zokkomon to establish his character with him helping people and doing good deeds. Although some scenes are handled well, they are too few and far between. Even the climax is unconvincing.

The director intended Zokkomon to be a superhero film for children with ingredients of black magic in keeping with superstition in our villages. But the film is just inept and devoid of creativity. From the shabby basement laboratory to the characters’ costumes, everything is drab. For instance, Anupam Kher’s character, Magic Uncle, wears a tool belt – is he a scientist or a carpenter? And his scruffy laboratory has nothing interesting to portray him as a great scientist.

Background music is okay. Action is standard. Special effects are outdated. The digital intermediate of Darsheel Safary is notable and impressive. Editing is okay. Cinematography is vague. Music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is repetitive and has an uncanny resemblance to their previous tracks.

Performance-wise, Anupam Kher plays both his parts with panache. But even he fails to redeem the film. Darsheel Safary is good but tends to aggravate. Manjari Fadnis has no scope and overacts. Tinnu Anand has very little to do.

Verdict: Dud

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