Zaira Wasim had earlier stunned us in Dangal as the younger Geeta Phogat. And just when we thought that is the maximum a 15 year old girl could do, here we have Secret Superstar!
Secret Superstar is the story of this 15-year old girl, Insia Malik who’s dream is to become a singing sensation, perhaps like Monali Thakur. But she belongs to a conservative Muslim family, with a very patriarchal father (Raj Arjun) who, never wanted to have a daughter but now that he has one, he wants to get her married as soon as possible. But the mother (Nazma, played by Meher Vij) is all heart! She fights for her daughter and her dreams, but all of this behind her husband’s back and makes Insia what she eventually becomes.
The story might seem a little slow to a lot of people, but not at any point is it boring. You’d always want to know what is to happen to this little girl and her dreams. Writer, director Advait Chandan doesn’t let you want to use your phone in between. The dialogues aren’t so powerful and are a little kiddish at places, but not one is out of the narrative, and same for the lyrics. One of my favourite conversation is:
Insia: Aap bet haar gae. Ab main kuch maangu?
Insia: Singing competition mein part le lu?
Nazma: Mujhse maange ke lie kaha tha, zindagi se nahi.
What drives Secret Superstar are the performances by Zaira Wasim and Meher Vij. Wasim is not even 17 yet and she is such a fine actress, like OMG. Actresses twice her age can literally do nothing on screen but this little girl is capable of so many emotions, that it is tough to believe that she is actually portraying them. Insia is a tough character. She has her dreams, but is broken, wants to fly but has no wings. She emotional, vulnerable but very strong. And Zaira Wasim plays Insia to the T. Her performance is what perfection looks like.
But the one character that completely stole my heart is Meher Vij’s Nazma. Nazma is a very strong woman – she is beaten by her husband but still serves him like a devotee, sells her jewellery to fulfil India’s dreams and does everything in her power to make sure Insia gets what she deserves. And Meher Vij is SUCH A TALENT. You might remember her from Bajrangi Bhaijaan, as Shahida’s mother. In Secret Superstar she delivers what I would call the best in the film and one of the best performances I have seen in a while. The Hindi Film Industry desperately needs actors like Vij who are such naturals.
Finally, coming to Aamir Khan! He adds the perfect amount of humour needed in this somewhat serious film. Khan is a super star in the true sense of the term, but in the film, he’s made to dress funny, is made fun of and halfway through being a ‘joker’ but he’s not afraid to take up such a role, rather, such a small role. Even for a 20 minute role, he gives his best and shines like no one else ever has in a cameo.
Above everything else, the film explores the nature of mothers. It makes you realise the sacrifices your mother has made for you. Someday, she may have eaten less because you wanted a little extra, she may have sacrificed her sleep, her kitty parties, her work. She has taken so many stands for you, but how much of it do you appreciate? I’ll leave this thought here. Think about it.
All in all, go watch this film with your mother. If not, just give her a hug if this film rings a bell.
If I had to rate the film, 30 million views one of her initial videos get. I refuse to buy this.