This is a story that will leave you both crying and laughing; a mixture of bitter-sweet emotions. However the heart of this film revolves around a mother-daughter relationship, between Insia and her mother.
Insia is a typical 15 year old girl who has big dreams, a natural talent for music, and a beautiful singing voice. But at no point throughout the film, is Insia shown to be the perfect child. She fights with her brother, routinely argues with her mother, and has to deal with a strict and intimidating father. She dreams of running away from home to live her dreams and wants nothing more than to escape with her mother, even at the expense of leaving her brother behind.
This is where the script writer plays it right. The plot could have very easily played out into a saccharine-sweet story about a young teenage girl fighting for her dreams, but the true-to-life portrayal of a 15-year-old girl helps to ensure that the film successfully dodges this category to score above your run-of-the-mill Bollywood flick.
While we may think it’s all about her dream to become a singer, the story engages us with even more, and surprises us with a twist when we least expect it.
Insia’s mother wants to ensure that her daughter is allowed to dream but also knows that dreaming in their world is a privilege that she can’t promise her forever. While her husband is away at work, she surprises Insia with a laptop as a present. And so begins Insia’s dream of being able to perform for the world. With the help of YouTube, she is able to show off her talent while staying anonymous, thus her alter-ego of Secret Superstar and catching the eye of music director; Shakti Kumar.
The climax is predictable. We know that they will manage to escape eventually. But the strength of this story lies, not in the plot but in the performances. The film rests entirely on the shoulders of Zaira Wasim and Meher Vij. Zaira as Insia is a revelation entirely on her own! At times, you sympathize with her, and then at other times, you see her as a typical, moody teenager. Meher comes across as the loving and doting mother who goes through life with silent fortitude.
And now on to Aamir Khan! Be prepared to see him in a completely different persona. You would have never imagined him as such. Given the fact that he’s one of the biggest stars in Bollywood, Aamir Khan understands that the film isn’t about him. He provides the perfect support to our protagonist without over-powering her performance. As for Raj Arjun, who plays Insia’s father, he is the villain and he plays his role to perfection.
Given the fact that he’s one of the biggest stars in Bollywood, Aamir Khan understands that the film isn’t about him.
The musical score plays out to compliment the range and intensity of feelings experienced by our heroine; Insia sings about all her emotions and the lyrics give voice to her role, holding up a mirror to her thoughts. ‘Main Kaun Hoon’ sounds a universal anthem for teenage angst, the age-old question everyone asks themselves in their teenage years. I have to admit that I caught myself going all blurry-eyed with‘Meri Pyaari Ami’. It made me miss my mother even more since we live in different cities. Meghna Mishra has a richly melodious voice and you kind of lose yourself in the music. The film also addresses the new genre of music being produced in Indian movies, party songs etc. As Insia’s mother aptly puts it, (about Shakti Kumar’s music) that: ‘He makes decent music and then suddenly decides to remix it.’
Secret Superstar is must-watch and scores a perfect 10 on our list for a mother-daughter cinema date! As a member of the audience put it quite aptly outside the film theatre today, ‘Expect this movie to be playing across all Indian screens on every Mother’s day!