Secret Superstar, a film by Advait Chandan, is a perfect treat to movie lovers in this festive season of Diwali. Diwali is a festival of not only lighting lamps outside but it is all about how we deal with the darkness inside. This festival is also about the inner triumph and winning over one’s fears, insecurities, compulsion to succumb to situations and accepting defeat. In this film, we see a 15 year old girl who dares to fulfill her dream of becoming a singing superstar. It is about her journey to be the singing sensation through her you tube videos and finally becoming the playback singer. A very simple film but it showcases serious issues underlying in our patriarch society. The story has lot of heartwarming moments, rather some heartbreaking moments as well. Secret Superstar is about how a teenager achieves her dreams in spite of all odds. She is not ready to play victim card but she takes up the charge of the situation and chooses the best possible option. The film has some beautiful mother-daughter moments. One gets amazed at the kind of maturity a 15 year old girl has in understanding her mother’s ordeal who constantly suffers due to domestic violence. The film prompts us to question our own existence, do we die even when we are breathing and is there any life left within us when we don’t dare to dream, don’t stand up for our rights. The film does take certain cinematic liberties, certain conflicts getting resolved in not-so-realistic manner, and ofcourse making certain scenes a bit melodramatic. But, these minor flaws don’t snatch away the potential of Secret Superstar to be a superhit. Secret Superstar showcases domestic violence, female infanticide, hypocrite patriarch society, indiscrimination between a girl and a boy child, imposing marriage on teenage girls etc. On the other hand, it also projects the spirit to live life on one’s own terms and conditions, with the feeling of power of liberation from inside, set oneself free from all negativities and toxicities around and pursue passion in a focused manner etc.
The film begins with a few students singing Antakshari in train. Insiya’s (Zaira Wasim, Dangal fame – young Geeta Phogat) entry happens with her singing a beautiful song ‘Sapna re…’. Chintan (Tirth Sharma), her classmate, seems to be smitten with her. Insiya’s mother Najma Malik (Meher Vij) waits at Vadodara railway station to receive Insiya. Insiya gets troubled to see the scar of domestic violence on Najma’s face. The initial scenes make it very clear that Insiya belongs to a conservative family. Her Father Farookh Malik (Raj Arjun) does not give a damn to his wife, humiliates her, physically abuses her for even small things. He is against Insiya playing guitar and following music. He does create hurdle for Insiya. But Najma is a big support system for Insiya. She finds out her own ways to support Insiya without Farookh’s knowledge. Still, both of them are unable to stand up in front of Farookh who just can’t tolerate Insiya’s musical interests. Insiya has her paternal grandmother Farrukh Jaffar and a younger brother Guddu (Kabir Sajjid) at home. Guddu brings his innocence to the story.
Shakti (Aamir Khan) is an arrogant Music Director who has lost his credibility. His personal as well as professional lives are under the media scrutiny. He picks up fight with other artists as well. As per one of the dialogue of the film, he creates remix of those songs which never got released.
What paths Insiya choose to fulfill her dream? How does Shakti become instrumental in facilitating her journey and giving a boost to her dream? How does Najma support Insiya in fulfilling her dream? How does Najma manage to fight her humiliations by husband? What role Chintan play and how he manages to grow to be a good friend of Insiya? Farrukh Jaffar plays the role of paternal grandmother of Insiya. Initially her character seems to be that of a mere spectator but her one dialogue towards the end makes her presence and character clear.
I think, it is intentionally chosen to keep the characters not –so – perfect. For example, Insiya is not shown as a perfect daughter, sister or granddaughter. This makes the character look realistic.
What appeared unrealistic in the film is certain aspects viz. Insiya becoming overnight you-tube singing sensation, and how she gets the support of an otherwise arrogant and flamboyant Shakti. The plot is certainly predictable, but yes, the film does keep the audience intrigued.
Also, music could have been more soulful. Certainly some of the songs ‘Main Kaun hoon’, ‘Meri Pyari Ammi’ and ‘Nachdi Fira’ are good.
There were many moments in the film where I had to fight my tears of joy as well as gloom. Every time, Insiya took charge and moved one step ahead towards her dream, it gave me goosebumps. The warmth of mother-daughter relationship brought tears of joy in my eyes. The abusive father’s screaming did generate anger within me.
The best performance comes from Mehar Vij as mother Najma. She is so expressive. Zaira Wasim also gives a great performance. She brings lot of maturity to the character of Insiya. Zaira is good in projecting her vulnerabilities, her excitement, irritation, impatience and passion etc. Raj Arjun is good as father, one tempts to hate him for his typical dominating behaviour. What to talk about Aamir Khan? He is one actor in our country, whose preparation and transformation for every role is absolutely incredible. In Secret Superstar also, he has very few scenes, but his presence is felt throughout the film. He has so convincingly projected the brat, arrogant, flirt, short-tempered as well as compassionate Shakti. He loves real talents. He has his grievances of not getting his due from the industry since he has not received any awards. Tirth Sharma as Chintan is also very good and noticeable as a teenage friend, admirer and supporter of Insiya.
Secret Superstar is the story of triumph over inner and outer toxicities which keep us away from following our dreams and passion and henceforth not living life at all. Secret Superstar is certainly superhit in terms of its content and superlative performances. Secret Superstar is about how a teenager achieves her dreams in spite of all odds. She is not ready to play victim card but she takes up the charge of the situation and chooses the best possible option. The film belongs to Zaira and Meher. A wonderful gift on Diwali, the festival of lights.
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
Cast and Crew Details: Source – Wikipedia Page
Cast: Zaira Wasim (Insiya Malik), Meher Vij (Najma Malik), Aamir Khan (Shakti Kumaarr), Raj Arjun (Farookh Malik), Kabir Sajid (Guddu), Tirth Sharma (Chintan Parekh), Shaan (Special Appearance), Monali Thakur (Special Appearance)
Directed by: Advait Chandan
Produced by: Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao, Akash Chawla, Sujay Kutty, B Shrinivas Rao
Written by: Advait Chandan
Music: Amit Trivedi
Cinematography: Anil Mehta
Edited by: Hemanti Sarkar
Production Company: Aamir Khan Productions
Distributed By: Zee Studios
Release Date: 19th October, 2017
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes