IN the hindi Deepavali opener, Secret Superstar, Zaira Wasim of Aamir Khan’s Dangal fame plays a teenager Insia who loves to sing, and is enthralled by the singing reality shows on the telly.
The entertainment accorded by the small screen makes her life, and that of her mother (played by Meher Vij , who last appeared in the 2015 Slaman Khan starrer Bajrangi Bhaijaan), that much more bearable, for the father is an angry, control freak.
They are a conservative family and her father (Raj Arjun, Raees) has no other ambition for her than to get married.
Her mother eggs on her daughter’s passion and gives her the idea to keep her identity secret with a burkha as she posts her singing videos on YouTube.
Insia, the burkha singer, becomes a sensation with heartfelt songs like Meri Pyaari Ammi, an ode to her mum. Even her school chums watch her videos. One young chap, Chintan with crooked teeth and dimpled smile (Tirth Acharya), fully supports her ambition.
She fantasises about receiving awards, which is captured on the big screen, and empathises for a nasty singing reality show judge, Shakti Kumar, played with admirable elan by Aamir Khan.
It seems Shakti hasn’t had a hit for a while, and pounces on Insia to record his latest song, a dance track filled with oohs and aahs.
Finally, just when the family has to go to Saudi Arabia for dad’s job and Insia’s marriage, her mum makes the ultimate sacrifice. Whip out the tissues.
Secret Superstar is the debut directorship of Advait Chandan who sticks to his own screenplay and showcases the daughter-mother relationship with love.
The voice behind Zaira is also a newbie, Meghna Mishra, and you will like this young girl’s passionate renditions of Sapne Re and Nachdi Phira, with all lyrics by Kausar Munir and music composition by Amit Trivedi.
The acting all round is spot-on, and believable, but the cameos by Farrukh Jaffar, Monali Thakur and Shaan are gratuitous add-ons.
Aamir’s portrayal of a music director on the prowl is hilarious, with a snort of a come-on that stays indelible.
Don’t leave when the movie ends, as Aamir shows off his ‘Sexy Baliye’ during the end credits.
He takes the mickey out of YouTubers, with a cleaning lady is the background to boot.
A fun watch!