by Inakshi Chandra-Mohanty
Life is all about hope. It’s about becoming maturem and empowering yourself to fulfill your dreams. This is evident in the film Secret Superstar, as Insia (Zaira Wasim) dreams of becoming a singer. She hopes that she can one day escape her claustrophobic lifestyle, thanks to her father’s controlling behavior. However, the film is less about Insia’s singing journey and more a family love story between a mother and daughter. Insia always puts her mother, Najma (Meher Vij), in front of her dreams. She wants to take her mother away from her abusive father, and is even willing to give up her dreams for her mother’s happiness.
A girl chasing her dreams in opposition from her family is not a novel idea. However, the core of this film is the relationships that make this clichéd story interesting. Zaira Wasim achieves what even current lead actresses in the industry find difficult to do at a very young age. She melds innocence and maturity into Insia, a complete deviation from her previous role in Dangal. She carries the whole film on her shoulders, along with a brilliant set of supporting performances. Meher Vij, best known for her performance in the TV show Kis Desh Mein Hain Mera Dil, is effortless. Najma is the perfect complement to Insia–while Insia is mature, yet still innocent, Najma is naïve in worldly matters, yet mature due to experience. The other supporting actors (Raj Arjun as Farookh, Insia’s father, Aamir Khan, as Shakti Kumar, and even Tirth Sharma, as Chintan, Insia’s schoolfriend) act as perfect supplements to Wasim’s character.
The other strong element of te film is its music. From poignant. melancholic songs, such as “Nachdi Phiran” and “I’ll Miss You”, to powerful songs such as “Main Kaun Hoon” and “Meri Pyaari Ammi”, Amit Trivedi delivers a wholesome album. Even the dance number, “Sexy Baliye,”, is a well-composed song, although it doesn’t entirely fit with the rest of the album. However, the most important part of this album is Meghna Misra, the voice of Insia, without whom this story of a singing superstar would have been incomplete.
With amazing music to support the narrative, Secret Superstar is ultimately a performance-driven film charged with beautiful emotions.