The Secret Superstar – the secret is out!

The secret, truly, is out – The Secret Superstar is as much about Zaira Wasim as it is about Aamir Khan, Meher Vij, Tirth Sharma and Kabir Sajid.

When Aamir Khan embarks on a project, we know something worthwhile, often something magical, is on its way. Something that will stay with us long after the last shot is over. Think about it – did you forget Lagaan in a hurry? The helplessness, the struggle, the soul-searing, near-impossible effort? The final, exultant victory? For how many days did Taare Zameen Par haunt you? What about Talaash? Did it teach you a thing or two about dealing with personal loss? And, of course, Dangal is just too fresh in our collective memory – three cheers for the girl-child.

A step up for the girl child

And it is this theme of the girl-child that The Secret Superstar seeks to take ahead. The film succeeds in great measure in telling the simple tale of a talented, repressed teenage girl in an abusive family set-up. Insia Malik (Zaira) is a 15-year-old school girl from Vadodara, whose mother, Najma (Meher Vij, of Bajrangi Bhaijaan fame; she is the little girl’s mother) is in a troubled and violent marriage. Insia has a little brother, Guddu (Kabir Sajid), with whom she has a typical older-sister-tells-off-kid-brother relationship. She also has a friend at school, Chintan (Tirth Sharma), to whom she is not always saccharine sweet. All Insia wants to do is sing her heart out, but her father will have none of it.

But then, even her selfish, creepy father cannot fight technology, more specifically, YouTube. Insia uploads her songs and gets to hear from an over-the-top music director, Shakti Kumar (Aamir Khan). He has seen better days, and in Insia he sees the ticket to a new future for himself. He wants to launch her, but there is a catch; she will not show her face. So, she sings in a burkha — hence the name of the film.

And how does the cast fare?

Aamir Khan plays the self-obsessed, glitzy, garish musician to perfection, making you wish he was there for more than just 30 minutes. Yes, that is all the screen time he has. Zaira is an absolute showstopper. The pretty Kashmiri girl is such a powerhouse of talent! Here is a prediction – she will go places in the Hindi film industry. Meher Vij is a delight, and one wonders where she has been all this while. Tirth Sharma and Kabir Sajid deserve a special mention for their stellar performance.

Advait Chandan gets it right

But the big surprise is writer-director Advait Chandan, who has made a directorial debut. Though he has been associated with Aamir for quite a while, having been the third assistant director for Taare Zameen Par and casting director and post-production supervisor for Dhobi Ghat (Kiran Rao’s directorial venture), this is his first independent outing with Aamir. He seems to have learnt all the right lessons from Mr Perfectionist, giving us a film that rings true in its bitter-sweet rendition. Amit Trivedi’s music score is a tad disappointing – you would have expected chartbusters from a movie such as this, but that is just not the case.

Nevertheless, go, watch The Secret Superstar. You will love your mom all over again.


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