Ten years when Taare Zameen Par and 7 after Udaan, what necessitated another flight-of-dreams, children-vs-parents social drama like Secret Superstar?
Two things: Feminism and the web.
That it took the combined powers of Amit Trivedi and Aamir Khan to bring alive this story of a YouTube wunderkind who dreams through and under the burkha ought to inform us that a lot still needs to be done. And said. And sung.
Secret superstar is that the story of Insia (Zaira Wasim). 15 and already brooding, she lives in ‘Modern Colony’ along with her family in Baroda, Gujarat. The irony here washes into her small flat every day: Her one-dimensional father smacks her mum around over bland daal or an unattended geyser. The smiling satisfaction of her mother annoys Insia. She dreams of breaking free.
Quite metaphorically, Insia makes her ‘flight’ over the airwaves. She opens a YouTube channel and takes it all of sudden. Free, connected and readily assuring, the Internet (or at least a positive imagining of it) welcomes Insia. She becomes its Secret superstar.
But there’s also life offline, with its thick eyebrows. Abbu needs his Insia married off. Ammi refuses to divorce him. initial her guitar is broken. Then her laptop computer. Insia fights these binaries, with binaries, and is finally saved by the most unlikely hero – the charmingly whacky music director Shakti Kumar (Aamir Khan), a washed-up sell-out who sees in Insia his own young glimmer.
When the digital divide pitting Insia’s generation against her parents becomes remarkably clear, therefore does her choices.
Starting off, Zaira Wasim is no less a find that her character within the film. If we ever had suspicions regarding her post-Dangal fame, including a National Award, they’re certainly gone. the attention of tone with that she delivers each scene ought to be an issue of envy for actors twice, and thrice, her age.
Almost as if following Zaira’s lead, Aamir Khan is equally self-conscious of his restricted significance within the film. He never disbalances it along with his presence and however delights us along with his bizarre sleazy-composer act. There’s even a not-so-subtle statutory rape joke thrown in, which Aamir wings with a surprising disregard of his stardom.
Although overtly air-guitaring at our heartstrings, director Advait Chandan (someone Aamir himself cropped for 11 years as his own manager before giving him his first break) is admirably assured about his approach. His film has all those naive, overly convenient moments expected of a debut, but there’s some real flair too. for example, Advait gets the sweet nothings of school time romance between Insia and her half-boyfriend blushingly right: from awkward i-love-yous (hun tane prem karu chu) to after-tuition walk-you-homes.
But he’s additionally in rigid grip of his metatext and his audience, always aiming for the feels while compensating with observant realism.
The drama will go overboard within the climax, however, that isn’t unlike of films with reformatory ambitions. it’s meant to jerk some tears and encourage. And it does its job.
Also, for a movie that ends with a tribute to mothers, all mothers – those silent guardians and watchful protectors – some comedy toh banta hai.
Watch Secret superstar together with your mum, and tell her she is that the best.