Secret Superstar is a 2017 Indian Hindi-language musical drama film written and directed by Advait Chandan, and produced by Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao under the studio Aamir Khan Productions. The film stars Zaira Wasim, Meher Vij, Raj Arjun and Aamir Khan. The film tells the coming-of-age story of a teenage girl who aspires to be a singer, uploading videos on YouTube while disguising her identity with a niqab, and her relationships with her mother, father and mentor. The film deals with social issues including feminism, gender equality and domestic violence.
The film received positive reviews from critics. Wasim won the National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement. Secret Superstar received ten nominations at the 63rd Filmfare Awards, including Best Film, Best Director for Chandan, Best Actress for Wasim, and Best Supporting Actor for Khan. It won three Filmfare Awards, including Best Actress (Critics) for Wasim, Best Supporting Actress for Vij, and Best Playback Singer (Female) for Meghna Mishra.
Secret Superstar became one of the most profitable films of all time, grossing ₹965 crore ($154 million) worldwide on a limited budget of ₹15 crore (US$2.1 million), with over 6,000% return on investment (ROI). The film is also the highest-grossing Indian film featuring a female protagonist, the highest-grossing 2017 Hindi film, the fourth highest-grossing Indian film worldwide, and the second highest-grossing Indian film overseas. In China, it is the fifth highest-grossing foreign film of 2018, and the second highest-grossing non-English foreign film ever (after Dangal).
Insia Malik, a 15 year-old girl, lives with her Gujarati Muslim family in Baroda, including her mother Najma, her brother Guddu, her grand-mother, and her abusive father Farookh who often beats his wife. Insia is very passionate about singing but her father is against her dream of being a singer. He goes out of town for work and returns only once a week.
Though Insia cannot participate in a music competition, Najma gifts Insia a laptop which was the prize. She records a song wearing a niqab, so Farookh can’t find out her identity, and uploads the video on YouTube under the name of ‘Secret Superstar’. She becomes an overnight sensation and grabs the attention of Shakti Kumar, a talented but pretentious music director based in Mumbai. He requests Insia to record a song, but she refuses as she hears a lot of negative reviews of him. One day, she leaves her tuition test to read a newspaper article about her. At her roof, Chintan her friend who had a crush on her reveals that he knows Insia is the Secret Superstar. He confesses his crush to her which she blushes and rejects him. Due to her poor test grade, Farookh breaks her guitar.
The next night, after discovering Najma sold her necklace to buy Insia’s laptop, Farookh beats her harshly and tells Insia to throw the laptop out. Insia gets so angry she snatches the laptop and drops it from the balcony where it falls down and shatters on the street. Najma looks on, shocked. After seeing a famous lawyer on TV who won a divorce case against Shakti Kumar, Insia decides to accept Shakti’s offer to sing for him in order to get her parents to divorce. Insia gets in contact with Shakti and goes to Mumbai to record a song. While escaping from school with help from Chintan, she declares her love for him. In Mumbai, she is unable to sing the party song, as she feels the song is like a remix of another one which never released, He sings to her his originally-written song. Insia records the original version of the song and her fame increases as she is nominated for the Best Female Singer.
Shakti reluctantly fixes her meeting with his ex-wife’s lawyer who gives Insia some files for signatures. Once home, her mother harshly rejects Insia’s suggestion for divorce as they would have no financial support otherwise. Insia becomes angry but later forgives her, after her grandmother reveals how Najma struggled to keep Insia alive despite Farookh’s efforts to abort her. Farookh reveals that he got a better job in Riyadh, and she’s disappointed as Farookh is taking the entire family with him and Insia would also marry his friend’s son. Devastated, she gives up hope of singing and deletes her youtube channel. He confirms their departure on the last day of Insia’s exams.
On the final day of school, Insia and Chintan spend their last joyful moments together. At the airport, a counter clerk informs Farookh about an extra bag having the guitar. Farookh scolds Najma to which she protests. She angrily signs the divorce papers and marches out of the airport with her kids leaving Farookh. All three attend the awards ceremony where Insia has been nominated for Best Female Singer. Unfortunately, Secret Superstar does not win the award. But the winner, Monali Thakur, hands over the award to her who comes on stage. Insia reveals her identity to everyone and dedicates her award to Najma and deems her the true ‘Secret Superstar’ since she supported and fought for Insia always. She drops the mic and embraces Najma.
The screen fades to a message dedicating the movie “To Mothers And Motherhood.” Later, Shakti releases his party song on YouTube dedicated to Insia.
Zaira Wasim as Insia Malik
Meher Vij as Najma Malik, Insia’s mother
Raj Arjun as Farookh Malik, Insia’s father
Aamir Khan as Music director Shakti Kumar
Tirth Sharma as Chintan Parekh, Insia’s friend and love interest
Kabir Sajid as Guddu Malik, Insia’s younger Brother
Farrukh Jaffer as Badi Aapa
Mona Ambegaonkar as Sheena Sabawala, Shakti’s ex-wife’s lawyer
Shamath Mazumdar as Recordist Ali
Manuj Sharma as Ranjeet Kumar, Shakti Kumar’s assistant
Nikita Anand Mukherjee as Insia’s tuition teacher
Harsh Jha as Insia’s friend
Saloni Mehta as a teacher
Shaan as himself (cameo)
Monali Thakur as herself (cameo)