Friday, 20 October 2017


In the latest product of Aamir Khan, there are two scenes which stand out for touching the pinnacle of storytelling and cinematic viewing. One is a moment in the first half where a despotic husband/father becomes aware of a secret he shouldn't have known and slowly asks his children to go inside the room as he prepares to unleash his wrath on the helpless woman of the house. It's a scene so chilling that it makes you budge uncomfortably in your seat, as if transported right into the middle of the action. In the other best-directed scene when the protagonist, played by the gifted Zaira Wasim, visits a music studio and performs a song that takes everybody by surprise as they witness her abundant singing prowess, the feeling is euphoric. (A special word for Amit Trivedi's winning score).

A handful of moments like these is what makes Secret Superstar rise way above the ordinary despite a half-convincing story and overt theatrics in the climax, which wouldn't have been quite a quibble in a Rajkumar Hirani (a master of shamelessly yet successfully manipulating emotions) film. At the same time, what cannot be faulted is the strong case the film makes for the familiar but instantly relatable sentiments like steadfast pursuit of passion, breaking away from the shackles of an orthodox Muslim family, teenage love and many others which debutant director Advait Chandan captures quite impressively for most part.

If there's one reason why you're willing to guiltily submit yourself to the simplistic and frankly 'too good to be true' plot is the pitch perfect ensemble. Aamir Khan shines in a small but laugh-out-loud funny role of a failed, obnoxious music composer named Shakti Kumaar. Never shying away from taking the backseat and letting the women drive the film, he's an actor/producer who can be counted on anytime. Raj Arjun is aptly cast as the tyrannical father while Meher Vij plays her part with remarkable restraint and in the process becomes the second best thing about the film, after Zaira Wasim. Displaying capabilities way beyond her years, Zaira with her terrific screen presence delivers a mature and deeply affecting performance that is bound to stay with you long after you've left the cinemas.

I'm going with 3.5/5 for Secret Superstar. It's not a perfect film but it has all the ingredients for an ideal Diwali outing with family. Watch it for Zaira Wasim, the teen with umpteen talent.