Secret Superstar Review
There is a genuinely sweet love story of a young girl Insiya, and her classmate Chintan (Tirth Sharma is the find of the year!) buried inside the cliches. He gives her chocolate, is there when she feels sad and angry, helps her with class notes, will not be insulted...
'I sent you a Friends request on Facebook,' he says.
'Are we friends?' she asks.
'Oh! Aren't we?' he reacts.
And at that moment, you know that no one can teach this 'react this way'. It is plain talent. Your collective hearts melt.
Apart from this gentle love story, everything else is just cliches.
A Muslim man who beats his wife, berates her for not putting any salt in food, throws the food, threatens to beat the wife when she forgets to pack his bag, who thinks nothing but getting his 15-year-old daughter married off, threatens and breaks off his daughter's guitar strings, orders her to throw her laptop out of the window, is applying for a job in Saudi Arabia.
The mother is loving, but she's a cliche too: she tells her daughter, 'You're allowed to dream only this much and no more', which reminds you of Farida Jalal in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. Even Farida Jalal let her daughters sing and dance, but when Amrish Puri comes home, the daughters and mother pretend to be sober and pious. That is from more than 25 years ago. The loving mother who does for her kids, gets beaten quietly, apologising for her existence, has no spine until the last fifteen minutes of the film...
The talented daughter wants to be a singing superstar. As if television is not clogging the airwaves enough with shows for finding kids and grown ups who can sing and movies about small town bands who dream about making it big have been done to death. A teenager who calls her mother stupid and yet has a great relationship with her is different no doubt, but then the singing sensation, the adulation on social media, the melodramatic 'I love my sacrificial lamb of a mother' speech is horribly been-there-seen-that...
Aamir Khan who shows up as a caricature judge of song contest, a has been music producer has a fabulous over the top role. And he brings great laughs to what is otherwise mawkish sentimentality. You'll love his expression when he hears the little girl sing. A mark of a true artist that.
Nobody is going to come out and say that a film about loving your mother is terribly cliched. But it's festival time in India, where everyone is drowning in mithai (sweetmeats). If that is the case, go ahead, enjoy gold encrusted cliches dunked in sugar syrup.
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