By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | October 19, 2017
Rating: 4.5 / 5
The essence: Secret Superstar is about a mother-daughter bonding. It’s also about the girl child. It’s also about cruel, dominating husbands who have an obvious bias towards a male. It’s also about women who suffer violence, silently in a marriage. This movie is worth going miles to see.
Trust Aamir Khan to put his soul into a project! As a producer, I’m sure he understands before he can finance rather than financing without understanding. If he had done the latter, we would have had a repeat of Ranchi Diaries a film produced by Anupam Kher which released last week! But then again, Aamir Khan has a clean slate where creativity is concerned.
His influence is seen in every aspect of Secret Superstar which is nothing short of a superhit! A beautiful story of chasing one’s dreams: It has puppy love; domestic violence; a mother’s submission to her state in a marriage; a music director with two failed marriages but with a heart of gold; a lawyer who has a clean slate fighting for women’s rights, especially against domestic violence, and sibling love. Advait Chandan’s Secret Superstar takes you on a roller-coaster of emotions before delivering the grand finale and letting the world know who the superstar really is!
Insia (Zaira Wasim), living in Vadodara, Gujarat, is a talented child who has dreams of making it big as a singer the world over. Her mother Najma does whatever little she can to help her child dream big. Knowing fully well that her husband will not tolerate any such desire of her daughter, she pawns her gold chain to buy her a laptop when she is not able to let her participate in the local singing competition since the final will be in Mumbai. Insia is also given an idea by her mother to upload her singing on YouTube, but with a burkha: since it is her voice that needs to be heard, and she cannot run the risk of her father finding out.
Reluctantly, Insia takes her mother’s advice, signing in as ‘Secret Superstar’. Before long, she has millions of views and is a sensation. Shakti Kumar (Aamir Khan) a famous music director in Bollywood gets in touch with her over YouTube and she is helped by Chintan (Tirth Sharma) her classmate to fly to Mumbai and back during school hours for the recording. But will Insia’s dream come true, especially since she is constantly afraid that her Abba will find out and that would be that!
The actors are all par excellence. Zaira Wasim (last seen in Dangal) as the schoolgirl with dreams of making a mark on the world with her singing renders a pitch perfect performance. Zaira on screen is like a veteran of 20 films. But this is just her second movie! She’s on top in all her scenes with varied emotions. Whether it is displaying the angst of a teenager, the fight to get her mother see the better side of life (even if it involves making a difficult choice), her talent with the microphone and guitar or her courage to take risks. She is top notch.
Meher Vij as Najma, Insia’s mother is a character moulded out of the ruins of a typical ‘Indian housewife’ (rural or urban India does not matter). She keeps the peace in the home whilst managing a monster who masquerades as a husband. Her bonding on screen with Insia and her relationship with her husband is catastrophic in the sense you wonder how she can hold on to this life of never-ending trauma and insults. Her children (including son Guddu) are her weakness and she will do anything to keep them sheltered knowing that their father provides.
Raj Arjun as Farookh, Insia’s father, is that typical Indian male who wants his wife to wait on him, even when he returns late in the night. After all, he is working 12 hours! Raj maintains his tempo as the dominating husband who raises his hands at will, to create this repulsive feeling within you. A powerful performance!
Tirth Sharma as Chintan, Insia’s school friend and Kabir Sajid as Guddu, Insia’s younger brother too pitch in with beautiful performances.
Aamir Khan never fails to surprise. As this eccentric music director and a judge on a reality show who does not mince his words, the perfectionist khan comes up with a new act. In one scene, he exhibits the state in the music industry [where he has to bow to the producer’s whims and fancies who know nothing about do re mi, but want words like baby and sex in the lyrics] without breaking into a dramatic grind. It’s a subtle scene which holds for a few seconds but tells a tale of its own.
Secret Superstar is about a mother-daughter bonding. It’s also about the girl child. It’s also about cruel, dominating husbands who have an obvious bias towards a male. It’s also about women who suffer violence, silently in a marriage. It’s also about how singing with the body is more the norm in Bollywood rather than singing from ‘within’.
Secret Superstar also has songs that adds to its overall presentation. Put this on your ‘to do’ list for this weekend.
Producer: Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao, Akash Chawla
Director: Advait Chandan
Star Cast: Aamir Khan, Zaira Wasim, Meher Vij, Raj Arjun, Kabir Sajid, Tirth Sharma