I was skeptical about this Aamir Khan Productions’ film since the songs played on loop at the PVR Cinemas during the 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, I was bored to death. Eventually, I watched the film last night and here’s my take on the well-intentioned film:
Set in Vadodara, Gujarat; Advait Chandan’s “Secret Superstar” revolves around a 15-year old girl Insia (Zaira Wasim) who aspires to become a singer amidst her abusive and strict conservative Father (Raj Arjun) and helpful Mother (Meher Vij). Insia wears a Burkha to hide her identity and uploads her videos on YouTube under the channel named ‘Secret Superstar’. Bollywood has dealt with this kind of cliched stories a lot but here, Advait chooses Daughter-Mother knit bond with the Father as a straight villain who humiliates and abuses Insia’s mother. Devoid of any Aamir Khan’s involvement or pressure into the story of the film like in “Taare Zameen Par” where he had to deliver monologues and stuff, Aamir’s role as Shakti Kumar, the music director is limited. Both Insia and Shakti are into their own traps, Insia- into a hostile household and Shakti- remixing his own tunes on producers demand.
The film has perfect amount of passion, spirit and aspiration required to break your soul and eyes into tears, while the film ends after its long running time we are bound to take up our dream and achieve it- like Insia exclaims, “Dream dekhna toh basic hota hai” (dreaming is basic). Advait Chandan smartly inserts relatable and fresh inspiration for Insia’s character like Dhanush’s viral song Kolaveri Di or Insia giving Shakti Kumar example of Aashiqui 2’s hit soundtrack. Nevertheless, he goes overboard at some points but that’s excused for whole Cinema experience. 30 million views without boosting, seriously?
Before becoming clumsy, “Secret Superstar” has its heart-wrenching, emotional and warm moments. Advait manages to direct some delicate and minute moments brilliantly making our hearts warm with love. In a particular sequence, Insia is anxiously waiting and refreshing her window screen after she uploads the video; Advait proves that he can handles the new age touch appropriately inspite of the typical story-line. Leisurely running at 2 hours 30 minutes, the film manages to captivate us into the hostile and raging environment of Insia but gets bore in some parts in the second half. Amit Trivedi’s soundtrack helps the narrative but doesn’t really stand out except for “Main Kaun Hoon” and “Meri Pyaari Ammi”. Meghna Mishra is the secret ingredient of Insia whose raw voice keeps the film on its toes.
Zaira Wasim is phenomenal, she goes through a wide range of emotions knocking out every bit. What a versatility this 16-year old actress has! Her eyes have the lively spark and glow to achieve the dream which ignites the film. And we also have an intense look-alike version of Arshad Warsi, Raj Arjun playing the Father. The one actor who stole the show is Aamir Khan, so good to watch him in a comical space after all these years of serious films. He reminded of “Andaz Apna Apna” and “Ishq” and surely has a blast on screen as the exuberant musician which undergoes a different tonality in the latter half. There is Kabir Sheikh playing the younger brother whose cuteness in the masculinity is fearful (since he could be like his Father).
I feel like this film is not about Insia, it’s about her Mother, who amidst the abuse and humiliation manages to make her child live the dream. She even has a terrific filmy moment at the Airport and voila, end slate says, “To Mothers…And to Motherhood”. Worth watching!
Release: 19 October, 2017
Director: Advait Chandan
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