Insia Malik (Zaira Wasim) is a 15-year-old girl from Baroda who aspires to be a successful singer in future. She has the support of her mother Najma (Meher Vij) and brother Guddu (Kabir Sajid) but her conservative and abusive father Farookh (Raj Arun) is completely against such things. Insia wants to take part in a singing competition not only because of her fondness for music but also because of its prize award which is a laptop that Insia wants badly. Unable to convince her father to permit Insia’s participation, Meher buys a laptop for her daughter much to her delight. With the laptop and a guitar, Insia decides to showcase her talent by posting her singing videos of YouTube. However, in fear of being punished by her father, she camouflages her identity behind a burkha and poses with a pseudonym ‘Secret Superstar’.
Will this method help Insia achieve what she dreams of? Will Farookh know about this and how will he react to it?
Positive Points: –
- The performances of the leads mainly Wasim, Vij and Harsh Jha make the film sweet and delectable.
- The songs of the film are quite simple but match well with the film’s environment.
- There are some beautiful moments which will win your heart and make you forgive the film for all its shortcomings.
- The film has not just one but three endearing chemistries which Insia shares with Najma, Shakti and Chintan. These relationships form the heart and soul of the whole movie.
Negative Points: –
- At 2 and half hours runtime, the film is tediously overlong and overstretched.
- A poorly crafted screenplay filled by Bollywood clichés and marred with blatantly open flaws.
- Aamir Khan’s overacting.
- The film misses out the struggle of even a YouTuber in achieving fame and success. Not only this, but the ease at which most things happen in this movie are absurd and quite improbable.
- The film introduces quite some social issues just like child marriage in the premise which are either lost or weakened in the film’s focus on music. Moreover, the film’s writers didn’t have the basic idea that Muslims are governed in India by the Muslim Personal Law which is lamentable (you need to see the film to know why I stated this point).
Direction, Script & Other Technicalities: –
Advait Chandan’s direction is not necessarily bad but it is as myopic as his writing in the film. The movie has its saccharinous and heart-warming moments which alleviate it from its innumerable silly flaws ranging from poor characterisation to logical errors to a lack of understanding of the Indian law system. The worst character development is of Shakti Kumaarr (played by Aamir Khan) who could have been a powerful entity in the film but is reduced to a pathetic joker. This is followed by Najma’s inability to make mature conversations with Insia who in turn has her own dark and disdainful shades which might go unnoticed because of the film’s theme. The flick takes quite a hackneyed approach to induce comedy in the film and worsens the fun as these fun elements get repetitive. It has its own set of plot-flaws viz. how did Insia learn guitar all by herself and how did Farookh allow her to even keep it, why did Najma carry the guitar to the airport even if it was damaged and rendered useless, etc.
The most important aspect of the film apart from its performances was its music and Amit Trivedi has done quite a nice job with it. His works are always unconventional to Indian film standards and I guess that’s his USP. The songs of the film are good but they will be forgotten quite easily because they lack a generic appeal that they should have had. Nevertheless, they were likeable and walked hand in hand with the film’s flow.
Of all the acting performances (both male and female) that I have seen this year (let alone this film), Zaira Wasim has been the best of all! She has a huge potential and Indian cinema requires to utilise such talents wisely. Her expressions, her dialogue delivery, her body language and almost everything are perfect and she is surely one of the strongest contenders for the next year’s Best Actress Awards.
Meher Vij is mesmerising as Najma and wins your heart with her simplicity. She too is a strong contender for the Best Actress In A Supporting Role for the upcoming awards seasons.
Harsh Jha is the most endearing entity in the film and his chemistry with Zaira is innocently sweet and awe inducing.
Raj Arjun is fiercely wonderful as Najma’s abusive husband. Kabir Sajid is cute as Guddu.
The only problem in this department was Aamir Khan’s over-the-top act which was quite disturbing. Unlike his previous ventures, Khan seemed underconfident in his avatar and was going overboard many a times. There was no need to make his character act like a clown in order to present him as an arrogant and pompous personality. However, I have to admit that there are a few moments where Khan’s expressions are amazing and his thespian skills become more articulately evident to even his criticisers.
Final Verdict: –
Secret Superstar could have been a lot better than what it turned out to be thanks to its poor writing and direction. It’s only supports are its sterling performances and its mawkishness which make it a good one-time watch. I’m giving this movie 0.5 stars more of what it deserves for Zaira’s extraordinary performance.