Movie Review: Secret Superstar, Or How To Carry On Dreaming The Impossible Dream

Aamir Khan’s home production has its flaccid moments, redeemed to a huge extent by the first-rate performances topped by Zaira Wasim and Meher Vij
three stars

Get this. My (surrogate) mother, who accompanied me to watch Secret Superstar, loved it to pieces. No reservations, she cried, smiled her lovely toothless smile, and gave me a big thank-you huggggg.

As for me, I liked – not loved -- SS, a sometimes-feel-good-golly, sometimes-feel-bad-sad pic of  two-and-a-half-hours.


Which is to say I wouldn’t exactly burst fireworks for first-time director Advait Chandan’s cocktail of smiles and tears, with Aamir Khan adding star heft to his  home production.

a still from the song meri pyaari ammi
A Still From The Song Meri Pyaari Ammi

All factors considered I’d say, thank you, waah-bhai-waah, you guys have done a neat, engrossing reprise of Taare Zameen Par, which was er.. maano ya na maano a defining game-changer in the genre of movies about gifted children’s thwarted from  career-ops for their god-gifted talents.

Indeed, the story is played out on the same chessboard squares: Insia Malik (Zaira Wasim), is an about to come-of-age girl from a compact patriarchal family. She’s adored by her resilient mum but treated beyond rudely by her dad (Raj Arjun, credible). Worse, Daddy Uncool believes in domestic abuse/violence, and is quite way more partial with his male son.

If such kheema-cutlet abbas do exist in this day and age, I’ve to still meet one. Maybe I could scour the mohallas of Vadodara where this slice-of-strife is located. Anyway, anyway. In this opressive milieu, Insia dares to dream the impossible dream, that is to become a singer (a character in Lipstick Under the Burkha beat her to this wish-list, but never mind, there’s room on the YouTube  top of the pop  charts for plenty).

a still from secret superstar
Zaira Wasim & Raj Arjun In Secret Superstar

Ergo,  cloaking her face, Insia bachi is on her way to famedom. Kahani mein twist. Tan ta ra, over to Shakti Kumaarr (Aamir saab), a technicolour musician, whom the fashion police should have arrested for his spikey hair couture and way out wardrbobe of tight, psychedelic Tees. Now you don’t have to be a born-prodigy to figure out the rest.

As you might have gathered, the story isn’t the thing. In this case, the form is. Right from the opening frames, you can detect that director’s style is understated and sensitive to humane moments. The production design augmented by Anil Mehta’s cinematography avoids artifice, easing you closer to understanding Insia’s heart and mind. Mercifully, the writing is shorn of Bollywood bombast, save for some brain-teasing lines like the one which claims that talent is like soda, the bubbles have to surface. How raspberry is that?

Never you mind, the performances extracted by Chandan from practically every little and big character, is of the highest order.  Insia’s buddy enacted by Tirth Sharma is a delight. And Aamir Khan is deliciously tongue-in-chic, lampooning the ego-eccentricities which are so peculiar of our dhinchak, remixed-up music composers.

zaira wassim in secret superstar
Zaira Wasim In Secret Superstar

By the way, the music score by Amit Trivedi could have been of far more recall value.

The show belongs to the expressive Zaira Wasim who was so winsome in last year’s Dangal. A natural-born artiste, she conveys the pleasures and pains of growing up with pyschological acuity. As her ammi, Meher Vij (whom you might remember from Bajrangi Bhaijaan) is the show’s surprise packet. She plays her part straight from the heart. I’d be shocked if she isn’t up in front of the Best Supporting Actress award nominations for 2017.

To wrap, I reiterate the plotting is of the deja brew variety. Gratifyingly the presentation and the first-rate performances, elevate SS to an endeavour that’s a must-dekko, with or without your mother.



Image Source: youtube/zeestudios & instagram/secretsuperstar

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