Secret Superstar (2017)

Secret Superstar is the kind of film that has a feel-good factor about it. The kind of film that is not made very often amongst the hustle bustle of Bollywood. A film, even though, watched almost two weeks ago, still is with me. This is a mainstream film done right. And we as an audience should commend the brilliant work that the filmmakers have done.

Secret Superstar follows Insiya (Zaira Wasim), who played the young Geeta Phogat in Dangal, a 15-year-old from a middle-class Muslim family in Vadodara who dreams of becoming a famous singer. Her loving, supportive mother is the wind beneath her wings, but neither can stand up to her controlling, abusive father who refuses to indulge her musical leanings. No wonder she decides to hide her identity and upload YouTube videos belting out melodies in the hopes of being acknowledged for her talent.

Along with being a film about chasing dreams and dreaming big, Secret Superstar also points us to a very real situation amongst us in recent times. YouTube has become a sensation amongst us and we are determined to use it to its full potential. YouTube is a platform without any prerogatives and people are happily and fearlessly sharing anything and everything on the platform.

What is also intriguing about the film, is its simplicity. Though the drama in some sections of the film is hyped up, but it manages to be in touch with ground reality for the most part. The film portrays domestic violence and bullying with such reality that it is hard to control emotions in parts of the film. Both the love and the hate is quite convincing, and that is made possible by the exceptional acting from its starcast. Not so convincing, is the apparent ease with which Insiya becomes a viral sensation and how conveniently she finds favor with washed-up composer Shakti Kumaarr.

Aamir Khan, an actor of multiple talents, clearly did enjoy playing the flamboyant, sleazy musician Shakti Kumaarr, a rare opportunity for the famously restrained actor to let his hair down. He lightens and brightens every scene he’s in and that is proof to the good actor that he is. Meher Vij is exceptional as Najma, Insiya’s ever-smiling Ammi, and their scenes together are some of the best in the film. Meanwhile Raj Arjun plays Farookh, Insiya’s oppressive father with such cold, dark efficiency, he casts a pall of doom over the film each time he’s on screen. Amongst all of the brilliant cast, stands Zaira Wasim, giving us a performance to remember.

The film indulges in too many sub-plots and takes a very predictable turn post interval. But somehow, it succeeds to maintain its main objective and never loses sight of its goal, just like its protagonist, Inside. Secret Supesar is far from being subtle, an makes the audience invest a lot in the emotions of both Inside and Najma.

I’m going with 3½/5 for Advait Chandan’s Secret Superstar. In a film that is equally warms and breaks hearts, we’ve got some superb actors along the way.