Director: Raj Mehta
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Emraan Hashmi, Abhimanyu Singh, Meghna Malik, Nushrratt Bharuchha, Diana Penty
Released in cinemas.
Selfiee is the official remake or as they call it an adaptation of the Prithviraj Sukumaran-starrer Malayalam film Driving Licence. Prithviraj debuts in Hindi as a producer with Selfiee. I haven’t watched the original so I have got nothing to compare. I quite liked the trailer for its new pairing of Akshay Kumar and Emraan Hashmi. And going by director Raj Mehta’s first two films Good Newwz and Jugjugg Jeeyo, I was certain that the director might just sail through with this one too. Although Selfiee is not as consistent as it needed to be, the film serves the purpose of light-hearted popcorn entertainment.
So, what’s in store? Akshay Kumar plays Vijay Kumar, a version of himself as the Hindi film superstar. Emraan Hashmi plays Om Prakash Agarwal who is Vijay’s biggest fan. Om’s son (Gappu or Tappu, couldn’t tell from the ambiguous pronunciation) is also a huge fan of Vijay. Their joy knows no bounds when Vijay comes to their small town in Madhya Pradesh to shoot for his upcoming film. All they want is a selfie with the superstar.
Om is an RTO inspector. Vijay does not have a driving license. He decides to appear for a test himself in a tatkal procedure after he learns that Om is his big fan. Mind you, Om has somehow managed to get Vijay’s number and has been messaging him after watching each of his movies. The fan doesn’t cross a boundary of breaching the privacy of the star. But because of some misunderstanding, the fan and the superstar clash. It attracts media attention and things get worse. Although the plot becomes predictable by the interval and you could guess how the revelations would come up, you stay invested.
I’ve been observing this curious case of superstardom for quite some time now. Getting the love and affection of millions of people you don’t even know for so many years can’t be described in words. I bet it must be extremely overwhelming for the superstars. On that note, for me, Selfiee became a bit meta. There’s Akshay Kumar, an actor whose comedies I and many from my generation have watched multiple times, whose dialogues we have learned by heart. The actor still kills it with his impeccable comic timing. This is a part he can do in his sleep or while just switching from one project to another. Although I can’t bear the featherbrained Houseful series or the likes of Bachchan Pandey, I still cheer for the vintage Akshay in the likes of Selfiee, Cuttputli, and that kickass cameo in An Action Hero.
On the other hand, there’s Emraan Hashmi. An understated and underutilized actor. As a common man from a small town, he is out of his comfort zone. Although it is not an effortless performance, it was good to see Emraan in a role so different from what he has done so far. Despite being a star himself, the starstruckness expressed by him when he is with Vijay is commendable.
The ladies in the film Nushrratt Bharuccha and Diana Penty as the wives of characters played by Emraan and Akshay respectively don’t have much to do besides a couple of scenes and a promotional song. Speaking of promotional songs, Mrunal Thakur appears in the opening credit sequence song with Akshay. Whenever the music of such films is discussed among the makers, does Tanishk Bagchi get the first call? To make remixes. There are at least two remixes in this one – Kudiyee Ni Teri and the nostalgic Main Khiladi Tu Anari. Performing on the 90s chartbuster track is a task for everyone except Akshay.
There’s also a sub-track of a has-been star played by Abhimanyu Singh. He used to be Vijay’s roommate before both of them became stars. The balding and fading star tries to tarnish Vijay’s image and add to the ongoing drama between the superstar and his fan. The role is caricaturish but provides some laughs. Also in top form is Meghna Malik as the local corporator.
The Hindi film industry is struggling to crack a mainstream entertainer. The desperate efforts to cast a social media influencer to get some traction from their followers, remixes of nostalgic songs, remakes, and promoting films on every possible platform is visible and it’s sad to see that. If only so much effort was taken on the script stage and empowering writers and directors to tell stories that are not just told but have something to say, the picture might change.
This film is no different on many of the above-mentioned levels. Writer Rishabh Sharma and director Raj Mehta use broad strokes. There’s no room for nuances or subtlety. But they get the key things right and manage to paint a decent picture worth a one-time watch if you don’t have anything better to do.