Secret Superstar

It’s been a while since a great movie has been released at the cinema, with the last highly recommended watch being IT. Amidst all these average movies coming out, Secret Superstar proved to shine like a diamond. Having just watched it over the weekend, I cannot help but feel so inspired and motivated in life.
Secret Superstar stars Zaira Wasim as Insiya, a school girl from a middle class family, living in the small city of Baroda, India. However, she has big dreams— dreams of being a singer so big that the entire world listens to her. Her problem: her strict father who wants her to finish her education and gets married, because that’s what all good girls do. However, Insiya’s mother, Najma, secretly supports her daughter’s dream to be a singer.
The set-up of the family is just like any middle class family. A husband/ father who works tirelessly to support his family. The mother, who is an uneducated woman, is a homemaker, who cooks and looks after Insiya and her younger brother Guddu, and the grandmother in the house.
On the other side, in Mumbai, we meet Shekar Kumar, the obnoxious music director who’s just blasted his head off to a young contestant on a music reality show. He gets a lot of flak from the media and his second divorce is much publicised, rendering him as a womaniser, misogynistic asshole.
Najma, Insiya’s mother, secretly gifts her daughter a laptop and their lives are suddenly opened up to the world. They sit and watch all sorts of videos, thereby broadening their lives beyond the four walls of their little house. In a chance moment, Insiya watches a song Why This Kolaveri Di? on YouTube and hatches a brilliant idea: why not to make a video on YouTube to share her singing skills? The only catch is that her father can never find out.
Solution: wear a burqa and sing in secrecy! She does just that and soon her videos become viral, making her a superstar. She catches the eyes of the music director Shekar Kumar, and both Shekhar and Insiya connect.
But this movie isn’t just about Insiya and her singing dreams. It’s also about her parents, who are often caught up in domestic violence. In one rather harrowing scene, we witness the father beating up his wife, while the kids are terrified in the next room. It’s a very scary moment and will send chills down your spine- domestic abuse is a real horror.
Does Insiya becomes a superstar? Does her mother continue to be a submissive woman or escape the clutches of her abusive husband? Will the fight ever stop between the parents? And what will Insiya do with Shekar Kumar that will change everyone’s lives all together?
Secret Superstar is one of those movies that is far from the escapist Bollywood movie. It is a character-driven movie, with characters we can relate to. These are your normal people, who dress and act normal, and who look normal. Even Insiya’s ‘boyfriend’ Chintuu is just like any regular boy in class. Their problems are everyday problems, their moments of joys are relatable and their conversations are just like any child would have with his/her parents.
A beautiful point is made of how children should be allowed to fulfil their dreams. Insiya is bursting at the seams with her powerhouse talent, which is curbed by her father, but encouraged by her mother. As she says in the movie, “having a dream is a basic right.” Such a profound moment indeed.
Zaira Wasim is very talented young actress, who would actually put other actresses out there to shame with her acting skills. Her dialogue delivery, facial expressions, body language is so commendable, it became a pure joy to watch her act. Alongside Zaira Wasim, Meher Vij, who plays the mother does a great job too in essaying the role of a submissive, uneducated mother. Why aren’t we seeing these actresses more on screen?
Having said that, the movie is not without it’s flaws. The father does come across as a one-dimensional character, who’s clearly portrayed as a villain. The third act does seem far-fetched at times (the airport scene and the awards scene) but because we care so much about these characters, we forgive the makers of the movie for the overt melodrama. We root for Insiya so much, we cheer for her at the end.
Which brings me to the final point: Aamir Khan. This man can do no wrong. Even though we dislike his portrayal of Shekar Kumar for being so obnoxious but he brings such fine nuances and mannerisms to the character, we actually warm up to him. That’s a mark of a true, professional actor. Aamir Khan, who produced this movie with his wife Kiran Rao, has another winner up his sleeve.
Secret Superstar is an emotionally driven movie, with characters we care so much about, and will leave feeling inspired to live out your dream, whether you are a child in your teens or an adult in your forties.
4 out of 5
Genre: Drama
Director: Advait Chandan
Cast: Aamir Khan, Zaira Wasim, Meher Vij
Rating: PG
Synopsis:  Insiya, a young girl, dreams of being a singing superstar but faces the oppression from her strict father. With the help of her mother, Insiya begins singing secretly online leading to a series of unforseen circumstances.
Running time: 150 mins
Seen at: Vue Cinema, Westfield, London

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