Mahira Khan has this infectious smile on display at all times.
Noor Malik isn’t afraid to frown, HARD.
Mahira Khan tries to see reasons even with gadflies.
Noor Malik becomes a shrew, when necessary even with her own mother.
Mahira Khan is forgiving.
Noor Malik is …
It is hard to decipher if this was the intent from director Mohammed Ehteshauddin, but the lines often seem hazy between Noor Malik the character, and Mahira Khan the actress. And there is good reason for it. As Mahira Khan’s Raees co-star SRK said in one AIB Podcast, one day I will go in a padded room and vent it all out. It does seem like Superstar was a padded room for Mahira Khan.
You think I can’t act?
I will nail various small characters (a theater play within the film) with such meticulousness, even my critics would have to applaud.
You see me as an aging woman, already past her ‘prime’?
I will play a character of a young girl just making her way into the industry. And subsequently, be a larger than life superstar, missing no beats in the process.
No one else gets to decide what Mahira Khan (and Noor) can and can’t do.
After years of fatuous commentary about her, Mahira Khan has finally responded. If this were a batswoman, one could write that she has silenced her critics with the bat. This was Mahira Khan’s best performance for a long time.
With Noor Malik, she is playing an actress, and a bit of a philosopher. Much of the wisdom coming from Aghajan (Nadeem Baig), a former film maker and granddad of Noor. He is playing a well fleshed out character in the film. So far, we see people bringing in legends to just fill up the credits section. Here, we see the legendary actor getting a meaty role.
Despite coming from a ‘filmi gharana’, Noor’s mother wants to get her married. Aghajan is the savior and mentor. Perhaps he sees a glimpse of another unfulfilled career from his past, in her granddaughter. But it’s an uphill battle for Noor. She still is, an outsider, a struggler.
The other half of this riddle is Sameer Khan (Bilal Ashraf), a mega star. Young girls start to giggle when they see him in person. He is the Salman Khan equivalent of their dreams. But he has his own battles to fight. A pushy father (Javed Sheikh) who want him to quit acting and take over the family business. The reasons are deep rooted and when the reveal comes you realize this isn’t just a desi dad pushing his will on his child.
Our leading duo meet at an advertisement shoot. Despite the differences, love happens. Here the music director Azaan Sami Khan and film director use music beautifully. Despite Bilal Ashraf’s limitations as an actor, there is emotion and chemistry. Adding a lot to the film is Alizeh Shah. Playing Chutki, Noor’s younger sister, she injects some realism and life into the film. Sarcastic, funny and audacious, she would definitely keep the audience engaged. Also Ali Kazmi, as a friend of Sameer and a film director, plays an important role. He is fast becoming the Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub of our industry.
We reach the interval mark with a big twist They have thrown in a line in the trailer to lead the audience; it’s not that. Now, the story turns on its head. It pivoting on Sameer Khan now. The scale is greater, the stakes are higher. It’s time to shed his stardom and become an actor.
But this is where things go a bit haywire. A sensitive topic is touched upon but dealt with peculiar haste. The same could be said about the way Sameer Khan’s character arc is shown. We get the wonderfully shot and melodious song “Bekaraan”. But Azaan Sami Khan’s script made it feel like they rushed into it. Usually, one of our common complaint is that the film could have been shorter. Here, it seemed we might have benefitted with some extra build up to the climax.
However, having said that Superstar is definitely worth a watch. It encapsulates the drama of the industry. Background music often a nuisance rather a companion in a lot of films, is used aptly here. It doesn’t tell you how to feel, rather just offers a gentle, comforting feel for the scene. Bilal Ashraf has come a long way from Rangreza but perhaps he would be more suited to Tiger Shroff style cinema than a demanding role like this one. The rest of the cast, fits perfectly.
Production Design team deserves a special mention too. Combined with the cinematography, it makes Superstar, believable for the audience. From old Lahore to glamorous red carpets, it’s very well done. The slip-up however is with the editing of the film. Quite a few times, it looks choppy. The scene feels incomplete. Perhaps, again this was an attempt to cut the run time of the film.
But what the film is really about is Mahira Khan’s conviction her choices and her craft. In Mohammed Ehteshamuddin, she has found a director who has taken care of the story. The script, gives her ample chances to showcase her worldly talents, and she doesn’t disappoint.
To surmise, Superstar is an uncomplicated but dreamy love story with excellent performances, and beautiful music. Despite its flaws, Superstar is worth your time once you are done with meat feasting.