Director: Advait Chandan
Cast: Zaira Wasim, Meher Vij, Raj Arun, Aameer Khan, Tirth Sharma, Kabir
Since its inception in 1999, ‘Aamir Khan Productions’ has hardly put a foot wrong. Lagaan, Taare Zameen Par, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Naa and Dangal have been some of the best Bollywood films. Add to that an eclectic mix of Peepli Live, Delhi Belly, Dhobi Ghat and Talaash, and it becomes clear that this particular Khan has understood the versatility of the film medium to crack the code of critical and commercial success. He (with his talented wife Kiran!) has always given something new in his home productions.
So what new theme does Secret Superstar offer?
What’s the plot?
It is a tale of a troubled teenaged girl. Not very good at studies but having a talent for singing and composing, she has nurtured the dream of becoming a professional musician and winning awards. Her not-too-literate mother goes out of her way to support her, but standing against them is an ultra-conservative, abusive father. The mother suggests the daughter to show off her musical talent to the world through Youtube videos and to use the burqa to keep her identity secret! The plan succeeds big time; the veiled singer, who has taken the pseudonym ‘Secret Superstar’ turns into an online sensation! A controversial composer now offers her a chance to sing a film-song. Her dreams are about to come true but to do that she has to cross many more hurdles! Will she be able to do that?
· Debutant writer-director Advait Chandan does a fabulous job as a writer. His story touches upon many relevant serious issues such as the teenage angst, social oppression of the girls, domestic abuse and female infanticide. To temper the harsh realities, he cleverly mixes positive elements like family bonding, puppy love and social media’s life-changing potential, to make it into a modern day fairy tale.
· Some nice directorial touches, especially in the depiction of different relationships at home, school and tuition place.
· Excellent performances all around make this film watchable. Dangal-fame Zaira Wasim superbly plays the troubled teenaged girl chasing her dreams. Letting go off his usual intense, serious image, Aamir Khan thoroughly enjoys himself in the role of a brash, loud motor-mouth composer, who becomes the girl’s unlikely mentor. Tirth Sharma as the girl’s confidant best friend-cum-admirer; Kabir as the girl’s cute younger brother and Raj Arun as the tyrant abusive father are all impressive.
· Meher Vij is the real surprise package here. The actress, who earlier played a bit role in Bajrangi Bhaijaan, steals the heart with a touching portrayal. With fantastic facial expressions and body language, she brings alive the apparently meek yet spirited mother who tolerates abuse without a whimper, while doing everything in her power to keep nurturing her daughter’s dreams. It is a maternal portrayal for the ages!
· Amit Trivedi’s music is pleasant.
· As a director, Chandan’s overall broad-brushed approach dilutes the impact with excessive melodrama.
· The film’s realism-cum-fantasy nature gives a slightly uneven- (at times even unconvincing!) feel to the proceedings.
· A tad too long.
It is yet another ‘Aamir Khan Productions’-film that succeeds in raising important social issues through entertaining cinema. It is tough yet tender; it is realistic yet dreamy; it is thought-provoking yet heart-warming. It is definitely worth a dekko!