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Secret Superstar
Secret Superstar - Poster 3.jpg
Directed by Advait Chandan
Produced by Aamir Khan
Kiran Rao
Zee Studios
Akash Chawla
Sujay Kutty
B.Shrinivas Rao
Written by Advait Chandan
Screenplay by Advait Chandan
Starring Zaira Wasim
Aamir Khan
Raj Arjun
Meher Vij
Music by Amit Trivedi
Cinematography Anil Mehta
Edited by Hemanti Sarkar
Aamir Khan Productions
Distributed by Zee Studios
Release date
  • 19 October 2017 (2017-10-19)[1]
Running time
150 minutes
Country India
Language Hindi
Budget 15 crore[a]
Box office est. 135 crore[6]

Secret Superstar is a 2017 Indian musical drama film, written and directed by Advait Chandan, and produced by Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao.[7][8][9] The film stars Zaira Wasim, Meher Vij, Raj Arjun, and Aamir Khan.[10] The film tells the coming-of-age story of a teenage girl who aspires to be a singer, and deals with themes including feminism and domestic violence.[11] The film has received critical acclaim,[12] and earned Zaira Wasim the National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement.[13] Secret Superstar has also been a commercial success; with a limited budget, it has become one of the most profitable films of 2017,[5] the year's fifth highest-grossing Bollywood film overseas,[14] and eleventh highest-grossing Bollywood film worldwide.[b]


  • 1 Plot
  • 2 Cast
  • 3 Production
    • 3.1 Development
    • 3.2 Casting and filming
  • 4 Release
  • 5 Soundtrack
  • 6 Box office
    • 6.1 Domestic
    • 6.2 Overseas
  • 7 Critical reception
  • 8 Awards and nominations
  • 9 Notes
  • 10 References
  • 11 External links


The story of Secret Superstar is set in the town of Vadodara (Baroda) in Gujarat, India. Insia (Zaira Wasim) lives with her mother Najma (Meher Vij), younger brother Guddu and an overbearing father Farookh (Raj Arjun). Insia is very passionate about singing, but her father is against her dream of becoming a singer.

Farookh goes out of town for work, and returns only once a week. Insia wants to participate in a music contest, which has a laptop and one free year of internet as a prize. Her mother tells her to get the permission of her father, but Insia never gets the chance as her father is busy scolding her and her mother. To satisfy her, Najma gifts Insia a laptop. Delighted with her present, Insia spends all her time on the laptop. She soon discovers that people have been using YouTube as a platform to record and post their songs. Insia records a song while disguising herself in 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 (Aamir Khan), who is a talented but rude music director and was a once successful singer. Shakti Kumar requests Insia to come to Mumbai for recording a song, but Insia refuses as she has heard a lot negative reviews of Shakti.

One day, Insia sees the her tuition teacher's husband read an article about the Secret Superstar in the newspaper. Scared that her father will read the article too, she leaves the test to run home and hide the newspaper. Chintan, who has a crush on Insia, follows her, and tells her he knows she is the 'Secret Superstar', recognizing her voice. As she had left her test, Insia got very poor marks. Enraged, Farookh breaks her guitar and beats Najma.

Farookh is about to take Najma to a party and asks her to wear a necklace, when Najma starts making excuses. Realizing that Najma has sold it to buy the laptop, Insia takes her mother to another room to talk to her, but her father overhears them both. Furious, Farookh beats his wife and asks her to throw away the laptop. In a fit of rage, Insia herself throws away the laptop form the balcony and breaks down in her mother's arms. After seeing a famous lawyer on TV who fought against Shakti Kumar and won, Insia decides to approach her to get advice on divorce. With no other choice left, Insia accepts Shakti Kumar's proposal and goes to Mumbai, escaping school with help from Chintan.

In Mumbai, Insia is initially unable to sing the party song, as she feels that the lyrics and the beats do not match. She tells Shakti that the song feels like a remix of another song which is never made, and Shakti tells her it's true. He sings the song as he original wrote it, and Insia realizes what a good singer Shakti really is. Shakti tells her that the song is too slow for the generation today, as they all want fast-paced party songs. Insia asks Shakti to give the original song a try, and when she sings it, everyone is surprised and moved. The song is then recorded. The secret superstar's fame increases with the song and she is nominated for an award of best female singer.

Insia requests Shakti to fix a meeting with her and the lawyer. Reluctantly, Shakti fixes a date the following week. Insia meets the lawyer, who gives her some advice and files for signatures. Once home, her mother scolds her for going to Mumbai without informing anyone. She tells her she can't divorce Farookh as they would have no financial support otherwise. Angry at her mother's refusal, Insia throws a tantrum, but her grandmother reveals how Farookh had wanted to kill her before she was born, and how Najman has struggled to keep Insia alive. Farookh soon reveals that he has got a job in Saudi Arabia, which relieves Insia, as she would have to endure her father only a month a year, but her happiness is short-lived as Farookh tells her that he has fixed Insia's marriage to a Saudi boy and will take his entire family there. He buys tickets for Saudi in order to leave on the day Insia's final examination is over. Chintan and Shakti try to convince Insia to stay, but learning of her mother's efforts to keep her alive, Insia tells them she has no choice.

On the final day of school, Insia and Chintan spend their last joyful moments together. Chintan reveals that he is going for the award ceremony, and is going to cheer when Secret Superstar wins, but feels dejected that Insia won't come. Insia and her family leave for Saudi Arabia. At the airport's baggage counter, the clerk tells Farookh that they have one extra bag. Farookh scolds Najma for carrying the guitar and tells Insia to throw it away. For the first time, Najma protests against Farookh as she sees Insia break down in tears. When Farookh threatens to slap her in front of everybody, Najma signs the divorce papers, hands them to Farookh and marches out of the airport. She tells Insia to call Shakti so that they can arrive at the award ceremony. Shakti and Chintan are delighted to see Insia, who is still hiding her identity.

Unforutunately, Secret Superstar does not win the award. But the winner says that she feels she does not deserve the award because she believes that Secret Superstar is a better singer than her and invites her to come to the stage and take the award. Insia reveals her identity on live television, and dedicates her award to Najma.


  • Zaira Wasim as Insia Malik
  • Meher Vij as Najma Malik, Insia's mother[15]
  • Raj Arjun as Farookh Malik, Insia's father[16]
  • Aamir Khan as Shakti Kumar
  • Kabir Sajid Shaikh as Guddu, Insia's younger brother
  • Tirth Sharma as Chintan Parekh[17]
  • Farrukh Jaffer as Badi Aapa
  • Mona Ambegaonkar as Sheena Sabawala
  • Shamath Mazumdar as Recordist Ali
  • Manuj Sharma as Ranjeet, 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)



Chandan conceived of the film during the first season of Aamir Khan's television talk show Satyamev Jayate. While doing the research on the episode about domestic violence, Advait Chandan came across Shanno, a single mother and a victim of domestic abuse. After her husband died, Shanno decided to join a driving school and become a driver so as to run her house, a decision that had the full support of her daughter who was willing to work as a maid so that her mother could go and learn driving. Shanno was successful in becoming a driver and through that she managed to support her house. This story redefined the word hero for Advait Chandan who says, "That is when I realised that my idea of a hero was really narrow. Shanno’s daughter is the real hero here. The definition of a hero for me and what I was writing about, it totally changed at that moment."[18][19]

During the third season of Satyamev Jayate, the first episode narrated the success story of ten year old Shubham Jaglan, son of a milkman and the youngest golf champion of India. Shubham revealed that he learned 60 percent of Golf through YouTube videos.[20] The story of Shubham further helped Advait Chandan in the development of his film Secret Superstar. Advait says that, "I feel like the middle class is really getting affected by the internet. I never went to film school, but I can sit here and watch a lesson on Stanley Kubrick’s camera movements, for example. The internet is empowering the middle class in a way that really needed to be captured on film. That was the umbrella idea – a mother and daughter in middle-class, small-town India getting empowered by this amazing tool that is giving platform to talent."[18]

In July 2015 it was reported that Aamir Khan shall be collaborating with his manager Advait Chandan and music composer A. R. Rahman for a film that was initially titled Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai.[21][22] In late April 2016, the title of the film was said to be Secret Superstar. A.R. Rahman later opted out of the film, citing schedule conflicts. He was replaced by Amit Trivedi.

Casting and filming[edit]

Aamir Khan had cast Zaira Wasim, when she was aged 14, in Dangal (2016). Shortly afterwards, Advait told Khan that he was looking for a girl of a similar age for the lead role of his film Secret Superstar, and Khan suggested Wasim. After Advait tested her, he was impressed and cast her in the lead role.[23]

The principal photography of the film commenced on 1 September 2016. The film is shot in Vadodara and Mumbai.[24]

The film was produced with a limited budget of 15 crore (US$2.4 million). The film's total production and marketing budget was 25 crore (US$3.9 million).[a]


Secret Superstar was originally set to release on 4 August 2017,[25] but it was later postponed to 19 October 2017.[26] The film released in 1100 theatres with 1800 screens in India.[27] The film was released on 2840 screens worldwide.[28][29]

In late October 2017, Aamir Khan announced that he would be planning to release Secret Superstar in China in the next one or two months.[30] The film released in Taiwan on 24 November 2017, on 73 screens, more than Dangal. It was also announced that Secret Superstar would release in Russia on 3 December 2017, on 50 screens.[31] The film is set to release in China on 19 January 2018.[32][14]


Secret Superstar
Soundtrack album by Amit Trivedi
Released 18 October 2017[33]
Recorded 2016–17
Studio A T Studios
Genre Feature film soundtrack
Length 33:55
Language Hindi
Label Zee Music Company
Amit Trivedi chronology
Qaidi Band
Secret Superstar
External audio
Audio Jukebox on YouTube
Singles from Secret Superstar
  1. "Main Kaun Hoon"
    Released: 21 August 2017
  2. "Meri Pyaari Ammi"
    Released: 8 September 2017
  3. "Sapne Re"
    Released: 19 September 2017
  4. "I'll Miss You"
    Released: 25 September 2017
  5. "Nachdi Phira"
    Released: 3 October 2017
  6. "Sexy Baliye"
    Released: 11 October 2017

The music of the film is composed by Amit Trivedi while the lyrics of the film have been written by Kausar Munir. The first song of the film "Main Kaun Hoon" sung by Meghna Mishra was released on 21 August 2017. The second song of the film "Meri Pyaari Ammi" sung by Meghna Mishra was released on 8 September 2017. The third track of the film "Sapne Re" which is also sung by Meghna Mishra was released on 19 September 2017. The fourth song of the film "I'll Miss You" which is sung by Kushal Chokshi was released on 25 September 2017. The fifth single to be released was "Nachdi Phira" which is sung by Meghna Mishra and it was released on 3 October 2017. The sixth song of the film titled as "Sexy Baliye" sung by Mika Singh was released on 11 October 2017. The complete soundtrack was released by Zee Music Company on 18 October 2017.

All lyrics written by Kausar Munir; all music composed by Amit Trivedi.

Track listing
No. Title Singer(s) Length
1. "Main Kaun Hoon" Meghna Mishra 03:45
2. "Meri Pyaari Ammi" Meghna Mishra 05:28
3. "Sapne Re" Meghna Mishra 04:10
4. "I'll Miss You" Kushal Chokshi 05:12
5. "Nachdi Phira" Meghna Mishra 04:15
6. "Sexy Baliye" Mika Singh 03:13
7. "Gudgudi" Sunidhi Chauhan 04:12
8. "O Re Manwa" Meghna Mishra 03:40
Total length: 33:55

Box office[edit]

By 31 October 2017, the film had grossed 101 crore worldwide.[34][35] As of 15 January 2018, the film has grossed 135 crore (US$21 million) worldwide.[6] With its limited budget, Secret Superstar became one of the most profitable films of 2017,[5] and the year's eleventh highest-grossing Bollywood film worldwide.[b]


Secret Superstar grossed 41 crore (US$6.4 million) in its first week in India.[37] The film grossed over 50 crore (US$7.8 million) crore after ten days at the domestic Indian box office.[38] As of 13 November 2017, the film has grossed 83 crore (US$12.8 million) in India, including a nett of 63 crore (US$9.9 million).[3]


Secret Superstar grossed US$2.8 million overseas in its first weekend, performing well in unconventional markets, entering the top four in Turkey and the top ten in the United Kingdom.[39] The film's overseas gross in its opening weekend was US$2,116,565 in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Arab Gulf states, Australia and Pakistan.[40] The film grossed US$468,276 in Turkey, as of 19 November 2017,[41] surpassing Dangal's performance in Turkey.[42] In the United Kingdom, Secret Superstar grossed £500,000 (US$675,097) by 30 October 2017,[43] and grossed 5.42 crore (US$850,000) as of 26 November 2017.[44] It has also grossed 13.87 crore (US$2.2 million) in the United States and Canada as of 3 December 2017, and 9.89 crore (US$1.6 million) in the Arab Gulf states as of 5 November 2017.[44] By 22 November 2017, the film had grossed US$6.48 million[45] (42.3 crore)[46] overseas.[47]

In Taiwan, where it released on 24 November 2017, the film grossed US$285,000 (1.85 crore) in five days, which is 77% of the amount that Dangal grossed in its first five days there, as of 29 November 2017.[48] The film entered at number three on the Taiwan box office charts.[49] Seventeen days after release, Secret Superstar grossed 4.6 crore (US$720,000) in Taiwan,[50] where it crossed $815,000 (5.3 crore) by 19 December 2017,[14] increasing the film's overseas gross to 49 crore (US$7.7 million), making it the year's fifth highest-grossing Bollywood film overseas.[14] As of 7 January 2018, the film's Taiwan gross has increased to NT$26 million,[51] equivalent to 5.8 crore (US$910,000).[52]

In China, where it is set to release on 19 January 2018, the film has earned US$6.6 million[53] (42 crore)[54] in ticket presales, as of 15 January 2018. Its ticket presales for the upcoming weekend is currently second only to A Better Tomorrow 2018, a domestic Chinese film which opens a day earlier on 18 January 2018.[53]

Critical reception[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, Secret Superstar has an approval rating of 86% based on seven reviews, with an average rating of 7.4 out of 10.[12] Mike McCahill of The Guardian gave the film a rating of 4 out of 5 stars and praised the film by saying that "This is first-class entertainment, the best imaginable antidote to the toxicity presently leaking out of western movie circles."[55] Meena Iyer of The Times of India gave the film a rating of 4 stars out of 5 and said that, "If your world revolves around your mother, you're going to root for this film."[56]

Rajeev Masand gave the film a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 describing it as "an inspiring journey towards empowerment, a case for pursuing one's passion against all odds, a testament to the deep mother-daughter bond, and a convincing depiction of teenage years." He praised the performances of the actors with a special mention for the lead actress Zaira Wasim saying "Standing tall amidst a pitch-perfect ensemble, is Zaira Wasim as Insiya, who comes off as something of an old soul trapped in a teenager's body. Wise beyond her years, she is riveting on screen, in the manner in which she appears to sing using her entire being, or the little moments of crushing disappointment and excitement that are reflected on the canvas that is her expressive face."[57]

Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV said Secret Superstar "is a bit like an over-enthusiastic child gifted a new bicycle. It never takes the foot off the pedal. The overlong film could have done with more restraint. It frequently seems to get carried away by the urge not to miss any trick in the book." However, he praised the performances of its actors, saying, "Zaira is an absolute treat - a bundle of miracles! As for the wonderful Meher Vij, one can only ask: where was she all these years? We hope to see more of her on the big screen." He concluded that "Secret Superstar is a winner notwithstanding the bumps along the way."[58]

Rohit Vats of Hindustan Times gave the film a rating of 3 stars out of 5. He highlighted the positive aspects of the film saying that, "Secret Superstar's biggest asset is Aamir Khan. His comedy despite being slapstick in nature, is worth noticing. Zaira Wasim lives up to the expectations and the film has a message." and the negative aspect of the film as well saying that, "Secret Superstar has everything you ask for, but it isn't exceptional storytelling. If there is one thing that can be blamed for it, it’s the overt melodrama."[59]

Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express praised the acting performances and the first half of the movie saying that, "The biggest strength of Secret Superstar is the wonderful Wasim who was also in Dangal. Both Vij as the mother and Arjun as the father are terrific, especially the latter, who doesn't put a foot wrong." but she wasn't impressed with the second half of the film and said that, "The second half slides. The confidence that the narrative shows in the beginning begins to waver as it includes contrivances and predictable curves." She gave the film a rating of 2.5 stars out of 5.[60]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Date of Ceremony Award Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
November 2017 National Child Awards Exceptional Achievement Zaira Wasim (also for Dangal) Won [61]
4 December 2017 Screen Awards Most Promising Newcomer – Female Zaira Wasim (also for Dangal) Won
30 December 2017 Zee Cine Awards Best Actor – Female (Viewer's Choice) Zaira Wasim Nominated [62]
Best Actor – Female (Jury's Choice) Nominated
Best Film (Viewer's Choice) Secret Superstar Nominated
Best Film (Jury's Choice) Nominated
Best Writing Advait Chandan Nominated
Best Director Nominated
Best Debutant Director Won
Best Music Director Amit Trivedi Won
Best Supporting Actor (Female) Meher Vij Won
Best Actor in a Negative Role Raj Arjun Won
Best Playback Singer – Female Meghna Mishra (for the song "Main Kaun Hoon") Nominated
Best Lyrics Kausar Munir (for the song "Main Kaun Hoon") Nominated


  1. ^ a b The Indian Express describes a "modest budget" of 15 crore (US$2.4 million), which they indicate includes print and advertising,[2] figures normally not included when considering a film's budget. Rob Cain describes the total budget for production and releasing costs as 25 crore.[3] A film's production budget typically does not include print and advertising. Other sources give the film's production budget as 15 crore, including PTC Punjabi[4] and Bollywood Life.[5]
  2. ^ a b When its worldwide gross was 113.96 on 7 November 2017, it was the 11th highest worldwide grosser.[36]