RATINGS: 4 Stars (Four Stars)
DIRECTION: Advait Chandan
DURATION: 2 hours 30 minutes
Advait Chandan Directed, Secret Superstar is based on the life of a teenage girl named Insia, played by Zaira Wasim, who sets out to follow her dream of being a singing superstar under the confinement of anonymity.
Aamir Khan, who has acted in the film and is also a producer, plays an out-of-luck music director, Shakti Kumaarr, who is looking for a muse to revive his failing career.
Insiya (Zaira Wasim) isn’t a bright student. She is struggling with her studies, her rage, domestic abuse, and an environment that may not let her take the leap of faith, ever.
Insiya thinks the world of her mother, Najma (Meher Vij). Together, they dare to dream of the times when they’ll stand on their own. But Insiya’s middle-class household in Vadodara is reeling under the terror unleashed by her violent father, played by Raj Arjun. Being financially dependent on him, years of conditioning have weakened the family. But they aren’t broken yet.
Insiya is quite mature for her age. She tries her best to convince Najma to go in for divorce. Given her condition, it seems like the right decision. she is aware of her singing talent, but she doesn’t have a plan of action. Director Advait Chandan tries to reason this out in one of the scenes, which has Zaira Wasim saying that the destination should be decided before the route.
The opinionated yet vulnerable teenager catches the attention of Shakti Kumaarr (Aamir Khan), a loud and two-time divorced Bollywood musician. Though theirs is an odd pairing, they could just come up with a winner of a song.
The story is not one that we have never seen before, but Advait Chandan (writer and director of Secret Superstar) ensures that the journey to the finish is an enjoyable one. It is an unapologetically melodramatic film, but manages to strike a chord – you will find yourself wiping a tear when Insia’s guitar is broken by her father, and cheering for her when her Secret Superstar videos become a hit.
Zaira Wasim, who had her best years traded in for wrestling shorts in her debut film, Dangal, gets to play the temperamental teenager in Secret Superstar. She snaps at her doting little brother, calls her mother “stupid” and breaks stuff when things don’t go her way. At the same time, she is also the mature one who is constantly trying to find an out for her abused mother. After wowing the audience with her powerful performance in Dangal, Zaira delivers yet another sixer in this film.
Meher Vij, in an exceptional role, is the secret superstar of the film. It is her scenes with Zaira that form the most heartwarming parts of the film. Equally brilliant is Raj Arjun as the abusive husband and father, who does not for a second let his performance become over-the-top.
Aamir Khan, who has steadily gained a reputation as the thinking man’s hero, is refreshing as the boisterous and offensive Shakti Kumaarr. His character remains something of an enigma, we know his story in bits and pieces, but Advait Chandan lets the focus be on Insia.
Music & Direction:
Amit Trivedi’s music is pleasing but the score doesn’t have the winning quality needed for a film like this. Most of composer Amit Trivedi’s tracks for Secret Superstar are not immediately captivating as standalone numbers, but viewed within Insia and Najma’s life they are perfect. Kausar Munir’s lyrics for Meri pyaari ammi and Sapna re have a clever everydayness to them, so that while you listen, you know they were written by a thinking kid yet you never forget that she is, after all, just a kid. Meghna Mishra has been well-chosen as the playback singer for Insia.
Secret Superstar is undoubtedly Aamir’s Diwali gift to cinema lovers. It will appeal to the audience of all age groups. If you judge the flick on the entertainment quotient, it falls a lil’ short. But, at the end of the day, the movie is an excellent piece of cinema which brings forward various social issues and the attitude required to deal with them at the same time.
So, keep dreaming. Because it will only motivate to work hard and be deserving enough to achieve them.