Aamir Khan Productions’ Secret Superstar (UA) is the story of a young girl from an orthodox Muslim family, who dreams of becoming a singer but her orthodox and strict father comes in the way of realisation of her dream.
Insia (Zaira Wasim), a Baroda-based school-going girl, hails from an extremely orthodox Muslim family where girls are meant to cook in the kitchen, keep the house, and look after their husband and children after marriage. They are not even expected to have a dream or aspirations of any kind. Insia’s father (Raj Arjun) is very strict and backward in his thinking. But Insia, a gifted singer, with only her golden voice and a guitar as her prized possessions, dreams of becoming a top singer. Her mother, Najma (Meher Vij), supports her but she (mother) knows, Insia would not be able to pursue her dream for too long as her father is strictly against girls being seen publicly, that too, in the world of entertainment. Further, Bombay, the city of dreams, seems to be out of their reach as they live in Baroda. Besides Insia and her parents, the family comprises Insia’s little brother, Guddu (Kabir Sajid), and a divorced paternal aunt (Farrukh Jaffer).
Insia is frustrated not just because she may never realise her dream of becoming a singer but also because she sees her mother being abused and beaten up by her dominating father day in and day out. The tolerant mother takes it all in her stride and resigns to her fate but she tries to do as much as she can to keep her two children happy. Like, she buys Insia a laptop one day, with the help of which Insia uploads the video of her first song for the public to hear. As Insia, clad in a burqua and face covered, keeps uploading songs, she becomes an internet sensation. People not just in India but from different parts of the world go bonkers over her voice. Since she keeps her identity a secret so that her father would not know about her singing videos, the media calls the singing sensation a Secret Superstar. Insia gets written about in newspapers and spoken about on TV channels but her identity remains a mystery, known only to her loving mother, little brother and Chintan (Tirth Sharma), a classmate who is in love with her.
Seeing the fire in her, Chintan tells her to contact music director Shakti Kumarr (Aamir Khan) in Bombay, because he has sent her a message of appreciation after watching her videos. But the young Insia has developed a sense of hatred towards the flashy music composer and, therefore, won’t even dream of contacting him. However, one day, Insia agrees to meet Shakti Kumarr because she has a selfish motive (other than singing) in meeting him. What is that selfish motive?
Soon thereafter, Shakti Kumarr invites Insia to Bombay to sing a song for his upcoming film. Insia travels to Bombay, records her song and returns to Baroda – all during her school hours. Chintan is the only one who knows about her Baroda trip which is, in fact, arranged by him.
Insia has to make a secret trip to Bombay once again the following week. Why?
Anyway, even as Insia sees the first ray of hope after having recorded her debut Bollywood song, she is soon devastated to learn that she may after all not be able to make singing her career. Why? Is it because her father won’t allow her to sing? Does her father get to know that she has sung a song for a film? What is it that convinces Insia that she may have to bid goodbye to singing?
What happens finally? Does Insia sacrifice her dream or does she pursue it? Does her mother help her in realising her dream or does she ask her to be her father’s obedient child? Does her father have a change of heart?
Advait Chandan has penned a lovely story about the dreams and aspirations of a young girl and about how her orthodox surroundings come in the way of the realisation of those dreams. His story is a good mix of the traditional and the modern because Insia’s father is very old-fashioned while she herself is a modern girl who uses the internet to gain popularity. The stark contrast makes the film appealing to the youth as much as to the older generation. Advait’s screenplay is wholesome as the film has family emotions, drama, music and a lot of comedy and humour. The comedy and humour – provided by music director Shakti Kumarr’s character – actually make the otherwise uni-dimensional drama, multi-dimensional and wholesome.
The best part of Advait’s screenplay is that it keeps the audience hooked on to the drama right from the start till the very end. The sub-plots are so interesting and engaging that they completely consume the audience. As for the emotions, they will evoke tears from the eyes of the viewers on several occasions. There are two climaxes in the film. The first climax is a family drama and it is absolutely exhilarating. In fact, there would be loud rounds of applause during the first climax and, of course, at the end of it. The second climax is a veritable tear-jerker and it would activate the viewers’ tear ducts. There are several goosebump moments in the second climax, especially when the background music (playing the tune of the film’s song, ‘Main kaun hoon’) heightens the impact of the moment and when Insia reveals her identity by doing something defiantly. The cinemas would resonate with thunderous applause and whistles in the final climax.
Shakti Kumarr’s comedy is fantastic. Whether it is his telephonic conversations or his face-to-face interactions, his comedy is often hilarious and adds a whole new dimension to the drama and the film. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that a uni-dimensional drama gets converted into a wholesome film because of the character of Shakti Kumarr.
Advait Chandan’s dialogues are extraordinary and several of them (like, for instance, the dialogue at the end of the first climax at Bombay airport) are absolutely clapworthy.
All in all, debut-making writer-director Advait Chandan has penned a mind-blowing script.
Zaira Wasim lives the role of Insia. She gives her all to the character and delivers a heartfelt performance. So lovely is her performance that it would seem as if she were born to play the role. There is not a single scene in which she doesn’t stand out. She is especially excellent in her scenes of frustration. This performance would win Zaira plenty of accolades and awards. Hats off to Zaira Wasim for a job done with a rare understanding. Aamir Khan springs an extraordinary surprise in the role of music director Shakti Kumarr. His acting is so lovely, that too in a character that is so different from the characters Aamir has played in the past, that one can’t help but admire the genius. He is so funny that one doesn’t stop laughing when he is on the screen. His costumes and his entire look complement his character. By the end of the film, he makes the character lovable and endearing. Tirth Sharma shines in the role of Chintan. His awkwardness is his biggest asset and that makes him connect beautifully with the audience. Meher Vij lends terrific support as Insia’s mother, brave in a way, yet timid too. She will become a sought-after actress after this film. In the role of Insia’s father, Raj Arjun is first-rate. With limited dialogues, he terrifies the audience and makes himself completely repulsive, which is the need of the character. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the viewers would hate him from the core of their hearts, which is the need of the character. Farrukh Jaffer is lovely as Insia’s paternal aunt. As the little brother, Kabir Sajid is cute. Mona Ambegaonkar stands her own as Sheena Sabawala. In the tiny role of her receptionist, Dianne Commissariat makes her presence felt. Shamath Mazumdar (as recordist Ali), Manuj Sharma (as Ranjeet, aide of Shakti Kumarr), Dhruv Jagasia (as film producer), Rajan Kumar (as film lyricist) and Nikita Anand Mukherjee (as Insia’s tuition teacher) provide tremendous support. Jasmeet Singh Bhatia is too good as the television anchor. Singer Shaan (playing himself) adds star value. Singer Monali Thakur (playing herself) leaves a mark.
Advait Chandan’s direction is fabulous. His mature handling of the drama is proof that he knows his job and it belies the fact that this is his debut film. Kudos to him for extracting such great work from out of his actors. Amit Trivedi’s music is very good and the songs appeal more in the film. The ‘Main kaun hoon’ song and the ‘Teri hee bani boloongi main’ (slow version) are hit numbers and will become hugely popular. Kausar Munir’s lyrics are par excellence and they deserve distinction marks because they touch the heart. Song picturisations (by Rajeev Surti and Aadil Shaikh) go perfectly with the film’s mood. The last song (end credit titles) has been superbly choreographed by Saniya Malhotra. Amit Trivedi’s background music is outstanding. Anil Mehta does a swell job of the cinematography. His camera angles and shots enhance the emotions of the scenes. Suman Roy Mahapatra and Pallavi Bagga’s production designing is lovely. Hemanti Sarkar deserves full marks for the razor-sharp editing.
On the whole, Secret Superstar is a surefire superhit. It may have started slow but its supremely positive word of mouth will take it to great and unimaginable heights. Ladies and families, especially, will adore the film and ensure that it has a long run at the cinemas. The Muslim population, especial- ly the womenfolk, will identify beautifully with the characters and become the biggest publicists of the film. Business Overseas will also be superb.