Secret Superstar is one of those rare Bollywood films that steps out of its comfort zone and touches some sensitive topics that are rarely seen in most Bollywood films. Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan takes a step back and let’s Zaira Wasim take center stage in her inspiring journey toward empowerment and chasing a dream to become India’s next singing sensation.
Set in the town of Vadodara in Gujarat, India; Secret Superstar revolves around Insiya (played by Zaira Wasim) a 15-year-old middle class Muslim girl who dreams about becoming a famous singer. Insiya lives with her loving and supportive mother Najma (played by Meher Vij) Alas; it’s Insiya controlling and abusive father Farookh (played by Raj Arjun) who’s completely opposed to Insiya’s dream of becoming a singer. Insiya, takes an unusual step by hiding her identity by wearing a full burqa-clad and uploading her songs on YouTube. Along her journey across Mumbai, Insiya gets helps from an awards-hungry musician Shakti Kumar played by Aamir Khan.
Debutante director Advait Chandan; takes his audience on a long emotional roller coaster ride by showing Insiya rise to stardom; while facing the wrath of an abusive father at home. The most powerful scenes in the film are the interaction between Insiya and her parents.
Meher Vij shines as Insiya loving mother as she does everything possible to fulfil her daughter’s dreams. The climactic scene with Mehar finally takes a stand up against her abusive husband is a scene to behold. Meanwhile Raj Arjun is sickeningly believable as Insiya’s heartless father. The scene in which he abuses his wife, while telling Insiya to take her little brother in the other room is chilling.
Not everything works in the film as it’s surprising to see how one music video on YouTube can turn you into a singing sensation. What does work are the film’s hummable track which are composed by music director Amit Trivedi.
Famous for shunning award ceremonies, Aamir Khan seems to be having a blast on screen as the flamboyant musician who brings in comedic relief to very emotional film.
Zaira Wasim is riveting on screen as she strikes a perfect balance of being vulnerable when she’s at home to showing great joy when she’s sings.
With a running time of 150 minutes, Secret Superstar is way too long but it’s worth watching because it’s a genuine film that touches your heart.
I’m going with four out of five for Secret Superstar.