Secret Superstar: The Best Diwali Gift for Bollywood & Patriarchy
Aamir Khan’s Secret Superstar makes for a great Diwali watch. Though the film doesn’t boast of a glamorous star cast (you can barely spot Aamir Khan in Shakti Kumaarr), it tells a big story about friendship and family. In all its humour and simplicity, Secret Superstar is sweet and warm, just like a box of mithaai. And who needs it the most? Here goes... but beware, spoilers ahead!
Because this simple film proves yet again, that the story is king. Gloss, stardom, stunts, sets, controversies... nothing works without a powerful story about characters you want to laugh and sob with. Advait Chandan’s debut film adds to a list of recent gems like Newton, Bareilly Ki Barfi, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Hindi Medium, Lipstick Under My Burqa and Tu Hai Mera Sunday, which might not have rocked the box-office, but they surely made our hearts glow.
For Karan Johar
Secret Superstar has no stereotypes, no puja ki thaalis, no flamboyant costumes and no senti gaane. Yet, you’ll bawl more than you do in the typical Karan Johar tear jerker. Dear KJo, here’s a touching mother-daughter relationship that is grey, messy and full of mixed feelings. Insia (Zaira Wasim) and Najma (Meher Vij) are hardly as glam as your leading ladies, but much more nuanced.
For Moms and Daughters
... who don’t always stand up for each other, there can be no better gift than Secret Superstar. Be it sexual harassment, body shaming or the pressure to get married, very often, mothers force their daughters to remain silent, fall in line, or marry against their will for the sake of having peace in the house. But Insia and Najma’s friendship, though strained at times, lights up your heart. They fight and argue with each other, but also for one another. They might not be brave enough for themselves, but they dream big for each other.
In fact, Secret Superstar ends with the words – To Mothers... and Motherhood. Be sure you watch this one with your mum. I promise, you wouldn’t even mind the predictable end for everything else the film achieves.
Secret Superstar lands a hard punch at patriarchy and you’ll be cheering for Najma and Insia’s glorious rebel moment. It’s a message that goes perfectly well with Diwali’s good-always-wins-over-evil spirit. Advait Chandan’s screenplay gets male privilege and domestic abuse so bang on that it actually lifts the special bond between Insia and her mother. As they break free from fear and chains you feel like tying patriarchy to the end of a merciless 10,000 ki ladi and blowing it up into pieces.
For the Khans of Bollywood
There are many superstars in this amazing story. Aamir Khan is simply one of them. And he wins your heart because not once does he attempt to hijack the narrative. You barely see him in the first half and even post interval, he remains a quirky character that gives the film a much needed turning point and comic relief. Honestly, it’s rare to see a megastar who is so secure about his place in the industry, that he doesn’t need to scream about it in every film he does. Aamir kept his stardom aside just as gracefully in Taare Zameen Par, Dhobi Ghat and Dangal. In fact, his Sexy Baliye is probably Bollywood’s first male item number!
Wouldn’t it be great if his fellow Khans stopped for just a minute this Diwali, to watch and learn?