Review: Secret Superstar is path breaking and ‘Baahubali’ of Hindi films

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Movie Review: Secret Superstar

Ratings: Four stars and beyond

Cast: Aamir Khan, Zaira Wasim, Meher Vij, Tirth Sharma, Raj Arjun, Shaan and Monali Thakur (guest appearances).

Director: Advait Chandan

Rating: Four stars and beyond

Every Diwali, a string of movies jostle for space to cash on the moolah at the box office and on very rare occasions, a small masterpiece slowly struts its way to stand tall and win hearts. This movie is Secret Superstar, a winner in all aspects, be it the brilliant performances, superbly woven script, screenplay and an endearing charm through the uniquely written characters.

Secret Superstar is a gem that will find its way among the best films churned this year in the Hindi film industry. It wouldn’t be wrong to call it, the ‘Baahubali’ of the B-town.

There is one legend who never ceases to amaze. No prize for guessing, it’s the maverick Aamir Khan who proves once again that he is not just a legendary superstar but knows the pulse of the audience by heart.  An actor who has always given a chance to newcomers by lending credibility to good cinema through the sheer belief in a project, be it a Delhi Belly, Dhobi Ghaat or Peepli Live.

Narration:

Secret Superstar is the story of a middle-class Muslim girl Insia (Zaira Wasim) who secretly nurtures to be a pop idol and she wears a burqa to upload her first song on YouTube. She is helped by her mother Najma (Meher Vij) who incurs the wrath of the husband Raj Arjun, an orthodox and violent man. Secret Superstar narrates Insia’s journey who is helped on her way to stardom by the maverick and narcissist singer, Shakti Kumar (Aamir Khan).

The film belongs to Zaira Wasim and as Insia, she is simply terrific, thus proving to be one of the best finds by her mentor Aamir Khan. The girl will go places and case in point is the innocence and vulnerability portrayed with utmost ease.

Meher Vij plays the battered woman Najma where she brings depth and intensity in showcasing her vulnerability. She is simply brilliant. The chemistry between Najma and Zaira as mother-daughter is one of the highs of the movie coupled with the conflict in the climax that has been handled with maturity by director Advait Chandan.

Of course, the romance between Zaira and Tirth Sharma playing Chintan is refreshing and takes us back to the teen days as kids. The director injects freshness in the innocent romance scenes that break monotonous moments if there is any.  Raj Arjun delivers a composed and restrained performance as the chauvinist husband.

Coming to the man himself, Mr. Perfectionist Aamir Khan plays the ‘has been’ singer Shakti Kumar and showcases the various shades of wickedness, crass, lust or loud act in a convincing manner. The costumes, be it, the tacky jeans or tee-shirt may appear stereotypical in places but Aamir Khan lends so much charm to this act to make it one of the coolest characters enacted in recent years. This act is the film’s USP that audience irrespective of age or gender will love. He gives an entirely different shade to the Gabbars or various characters played by Shakti Kapoor. Somehow, Aamir Khan reminds us of his cameo song, I like you like I hate you in Delhi Belly or Ghulam.

Director Advait Chandan gently touches the issues that women face in everyday life and how voices are stifled through violence. The climax scene where Meher Vij gives it to her husband bears a powerful impact that drives home a valid point, look at the aggressor straight in the eyes and show no fear.

What’s Not!:

The main drawback in the movie is the lack of foot tapping numbers taking into account that Secret Superstar is about pop aspirations, music, and dreams. Except Mein Kaun Hoon and Mere Pyaari Aami, the film lacks the kind of music that gel with the film’s theme and it fails to stay in the mind for a long time. There are few cliché sequences, right from breaking the laptop or father’s plan to force his daughter to get married to a much older man in Saudi Arabia where he is settling for a job.

Final Words:

Secret Superstar comes as a breeze of fresh air that captivates the audience, in particular, the young generation and shows what drama is all about with the right dose of emotions, laughter, and aspirations. Of course, Monali Thakur as herself adds to the freshness of the theme. The movie will pave the way for the rightful place of pop music and define its place in Hindi cinema in years to come. Secret Superstar is path-breaking.

Love

V

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Film Review: Dangal is master-piece of faction

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Film Review: Dangal

Producer: Aamir Khan Productions

Director: Nitesh Tiwari

Cast: Aamir Khan, Sakshi Tanwar, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar, Ritwik Sahore and Girish Kulkarni

Rating: 4 stars

There is one man in the film industry who is in himself a brand for excellence and who rarely disappoints his audience who rightly expect sparks, be it at the ticket counter or in terms of aesthetic quality. No prize for guessing? Mr. Perfectionist, Aamir Khan. He simply takes Dangal to another level, playing Mahavir Singh Phogat that will set the bar to a soaring high in the display of such a mature character, wearing shades of ruthlessness as a father and expressing the pain conveyed in his eyes. It’s a fab act. A film like Dangal on sports and real life personalities will serve as a strong reference point in years to come through the helming of a terrific script, brilliant execution by Nitesh Tiwari and the entire cast excelling.

Dangal traces the story of Mahavir Singh Phogat, the journey and rise of his daughters, Babita and Geeta whom he helped trained to win big in wrestling. It’s not easy to make a film on sports and depicting real life characters but it is where Dangal scores high, beautifully blending fiction, entertainment, and fact. A master story-telling of faction.

Aamir Khan leads the ensemble cast and carries the film on his shoulders from start-to-finish playing the wrestler who couldn’t make it big but see the dreams in his daughters. The actor’s body language is terrific and effortless emote, without going over the top which is one of the core strength of the film. The best thing is Aamir evades the pit of not letting his real-life persona tower above the script and watch Dangal to know what I mean. It constitutes the beauty of this film. Moreover, his transformation in the movie and gaining weight is beautifully sketched and presented on screen.

Sakshi Tanwar competently matches Khan and her body language is simply fantastic and conveys the multitude emotions in a restrained manner. Debutant Fatima Sheikh impresses as Gita and she is at her natural best, playing the character.  She is excellent in her first film and will fetch awards along with her reel sister Sanya Malhotra. Both actors share an explosive chemistry. Their younger selves in the movie, Zaira Wasim, and Suhani Bhatnagar are not only excellent but also endearing and relatable. Ritwik Sahore who plays the younger version of Aamir’s nephew is first-rate and endearing, while Aparshakti Khurrana (the elder version) performs competently. The coach role played by Girish Kulkarni is a perfect fit for the role, high on ego, arrogance, and scheming.

The film has several poignant and stand-out scenes where the child bride reminds the Phogat sisters on how Mahavir Singh Phogat is a father every girl deserve for believing in women who are married off and treated as a burden in the village of Haryana. The scene is executed in a subtle manner, touching the plight of woman in our society where dreaming big is perhaps not allowed. The scene where Aamir Khan pleads in front of the board for his daughters to stay in the institute or Geeta wrestling with the father is executed in an unblemished manner. The devil lies in the detail and the wrestling scenes are shot and captured with sheer cinematic brilliance.

On the other hand, the filmmaker has taken creative liberties and it shows in the scene where Aamir Khan is locked inside the room seems to be out of place and done with the aim of pouring masala. It goes against the whole spirit of the film and is one of the minor setbacks in the film.

The editing is cutting-edge, outstanding screenplay and the direction by Neeraj Tiwari is a stroke play that engages the audience through a seamless blend of emotions, sports, vanity, gently touching women conditions and patriotism. Aamir Khan act is the real icing in a film that not only entertains but bring to the fore the story of two of the most brilliant women athletes and the sacrifice of their father. The actor is stupendous in delivering the Haryanvi accent to near perfection. Dangal will be remembered as one of the biggest masterpieces in recent times and the movie will be counted among Hindi cinema’s golden era.

V

PS: I am taking a blogging break for the New Year and see you in another week. Keep reading and commenting.

Happy New Year

V