Aamir Khan, Zaira Wasim, Meher Vij, Raj Arjun
It might have been a fairy tale for Advait Chandan to get a break like he has.... his euphoria shows in the film, which should have been more layered than a basic fairytale. Despite its flaws, Secret Superstar still manages to warm your heart quite a bit.
Insia (Zaira Wasim) lives in Baroda in a rather difficult environment. Her father’s abusive ways has rendered the family helpless and miserable to say the least. Her only champion is her mother, Najma (Meher Vij) who encourages Insia’s dreams of becoming a singer.
Though the brunt of an abusive father spells doom on the house, it also sparks the Insia’s spirited into breaking away from the violence and the hate. With the help of her mother she invests in her talent – in music. Slowly, she comes into her own, while her songs start becoming a rage online. Success, despite being a secret, builds her confidence. Of course, within the film's movement against domestic violence, comes in Shakti Kumaarr (Aamir Khan) who completely tips the tone of the film and adds a freshness and a breather to the intensity.
While Shakti Kumaarr is completely unlike anything that is usually associated with Aamir Khan, Aamir completely wraps himself in this garish personality, making us forget what he really is. In between Shakti and Insia lies the soul of the film, so much so that despite the fervour with which Najma and even Faarukh (Raj Arun – the father) take to the film’s core, their characters remain half-baked. Every tinge of Insia’s thought and feelings have been captured beautifully, but the same is not the case with the rest of the actors. Given most of Insia’s emotions are reactions to the actions meted out by others around her, their actions needed to be explained and nuanced too.
The film might be a short one, and a simple linear script but the treatment should have matched the calibre of the star presenting it.
What makes the experience of Secret Superstar beautiful, is the performances of the actors associated with the film. Beginning with Zaira, who has already proved what a superlative performer she is with DANGAL, she really takes on Insia as if she were an extension to her own personality. There are moments where she doesn’t say much and yet, her yearning for music or her anger towards her father gets relayed across the screen. At this young age, the maturity with which she has taken to her talent deserves a resounding round of applause.
Of course, with a mentor like Aamir Khan onscreen and off-screen, there is really no way she can be less than perfect. Seeing Aamir take on Shakti Kumaarr with a lust for acting is stuff textbooks on acting should be made of. Firstly, Shakti Kumaarr is not the main character in the film, despite being extremely important. The man is borderline offensive most of the time, something A-grade actors usually don’t want to delve into onscreen. And yet he comes out a winner. With his gaudy attire and disgusting oneliners – he still wins. Only Aamir Khan knows how he does it.
I cannot give full credit to Advait, despite making a decent film because the film won over on EQ. On script level we didn’t see anything that we have not seen before. The treatment of the film wasn't something out of the world, even the most emotional scenes didn’t infuse new blood into the creative being of Bollywood, but the fact is that the film is a good and enoyable film. The fact that it could have been better pulls Advait down. Here’s hoping next time...Chandan does a lil easy on the background score and harder on himself.