Secret Superstar is a master stroke (favourite term in contemporary discourse) of genius. Zaira Wasim is authentic and the actor playing her mother is the star of the movie as the uneducated subtle, sacrificing mother who has fought domestic violence daily to raise her girl who plays the guitar since the age of six. This tenth standard girl is into song writing and singing rather than physics.
The girl creates a YouTube channel which makes her an instant viral phenomenon in a Burqa to hide her identity. She gets talent scouted for a song by a brash music composer played by Amir Khan, a cross between Himesh in physicality and Anu Malik in atrocious behaviour especially on reality shows. Amir Khan with a 15 minute cameo steals the show with such precise mechanisms to depict a music director.
Rather than the aspirational small town girl making it Big, the domestic violence angle is the biggest sub plot of the film. An abusive husband who trades his school going daughter’s life for a job in the gulf is rather real.
There is a cute love story too wrapped in the film. The last ten minutes of the movie steals the show as the mother fights back.
However on the flip side, the setting of a Muslim family in Vadodara in post 2002 Gujarat for a display of patriarchy in a Zee Studios production( Mr Chandra is a BJP supported lawmaker) is rather problematic in today’s India as it feeds in to too many mainstream narratives; Muslim, Male, Wife Beater, Giving daughter for child marriage is checking all the boxes for stereotypes. Make a film about the misogyny in Jatland.
A must watch nevertheless.