Reaching for the skies
Reaching for the skies

As an actor and an accomplished performer, Aamir Khan has always stood head and shoulders above his fellow ‘Khan’danis.  

The 2016 release ‘Dangal’ which saw him play his age, mentoring his two daughters to become ace wrestlers is still fresh in memory for the realistic portrayals of all the main characters in that film.

Nearly a year after this mammoth hit, Aamir is seen in a similar mould – the prime mover behind the breaking free of a talented, yet suppressed Muslim girl in his Diwali flick ‘Secret Superstar’. By no means a critical take on the domestic environment prevailing in average Muslim homes, the film simply sends home the message – allow children to exploit their potential, let them dream and achieve their goals.

Basing the film out of Vadodara, not shown to be too ultra-conservative on the surface, the film moves at various levels – puppy love between two high-school kids, the clever exploitation of modern day technology like YouTube by modern youth to publicise one’s hidden talent and how, as an aftermath, it all boils down to a direct confrontation between a stuffy, patriarchal father and a pliant, yet defiant mother who stands by the daughter when it matters the most.

Weaving in Aamir’s character on the lines of a few boorish, badly-behaved filmwalahs, the director Advait Chandan, who happens to be the star’s manager too, gives it a larger-than-life image. Of course, Khan carries it off effortlessly and sports stylish facial hair and colourful clothes to give his performance a noticeable twist.

What stands out is the acting of Zaira Wasim and Meher Vij who plays her mother. The intimacy between the two women, moving in and out of tricky situations while confronting the tyrannical  male head of the family, yet staying stubbornly on course to take their actions to its logical end makes for engrossing viewing. Zaira had shown what she could with her earlier film ‘ Dangal’ but Meher, graceful and controlled manages the proceedings in her precocious daughter’s life rather well.

In the end, it turns out to be a tribute to all those women who fight for their own gender and refusing to buckle down when it comes to standing up for their rights, even if it means starting life afresh all over again. With reforms sweeping Indian society across religions when it comes to establishing human rights, this is a good film as it holds a mirror to what is seriously wrong with our attitudes and the urgent need to be more realistic and accommodating of the next gen and their wishlists.