Not very long ago we saw Ayushmann Khurrana play a superstar in An Action Hero, where an upcoming youth icon wanting to take a selfie with the actor ends up dead, and his brother lectures the superstar that all he is is because of public, so if they want a selfie, actors need to oblige. Cut to Akshay Kumar’s latest theatrical release Selfiee, where the actor plays a superstar and ends up in a murky mess of sorts with his biggest fan. All this fan desired for was a seflie with his idol, but things take an ugly turn when media gets involved and it becomes a battle of egos and an ultimate fight between a superstar vs his fan.
An official remake of Malayalam film Driving Licence, this Akshay-starrer dramedy is not a frame by frame copy of the original (I’ve seen the Malayalam one in bit and parts) and has many lighter moments. Other than the basic storyline, Selfiee has ditched the serious undertones of the original and laced the writing with a lot of humour.
The story follows superstar Vijay Kumar (Akshay) who wants a driving licence urgently to be able to finish the climax of his film and save the producer from incurring losses. His diehard fan, RTO officer Om Prakash Aggarwal (Emraan Hashmi) is given the task to help the actor, and he agrees to fulfil it without following the usual tedious process and asks for a selfie as a gesture in return. But things don’t go as planned and a misunderstanding leads to their feud becoming prime time news, while public has a field day with their juicy fight.
I have somehow always enjoyed watching actors portray superstars onscreen; it’s kind of watching a film within a film, so double the fun at the cost of one. And this is seemingly becoming a tried and tested formula for filmmakers. Remember when Om Kapoor, played by Shah Rukh Khan in Om Shanti Shanti Om, became everyone’s favourite, or when Vidya Balan brought to life the superstardom of Silk Smitha or even Kangana Ranaut’s portrayal of Jayalalithaa during her best days as a superstar — all these tried to bring to fore various aspects of a star’s life and their connection with the common man, too.
With Selfiee, things look more real and relatable because of the story and narrative which is not too far-fetched and is pretty convincing. Selfiee doesn’t end at being a feud between a star and an RTO officer, but also covers their emotional side of being a husband, a father and balancing it all with their respective jobs. The screenplay is engaging and doesn’t let you have too many dull moments. The original story by Sachy has been written for the Hindi version by Rishabh Sharma and he tweaks it a bit to suit the Hindi audience’s palette.
Akshay as Vijay gets as close as you could imagine to the superstardom he enjoys in real life. Bearing a charming persona and swag, he shows signs of gratitude for his fans despite being a self-made star. What I loved about Selfiee and which perhaps remains the highlight of the film for me, is Akshay’s tendency to be able to take a joke on himself and laugh at it, too. Be it taking a dig at the constant scrutiny on the number of films he does in a year, Hindi films not working not working at the box office of late or a doctor telling him that he needs to do some ‘classy films over massy cinema’, or even his infamous smile showing his gums , he delivers all of these with so much ease.
It was after over a year that we saw Emraan Hashmi back on the big screen, and he has a pleasant screen presence though at places, he seemed a bit loud and over-the-top. But, maybe that’s how some diehard fans of superstars are. That they can’t control their emotions on seeing or meeting their ‘gods’. In face-off scenes with Akshay, it’s commendable to see how Emraan manages to hold his ground.
Among the supporting cast, Mahesh Thakur as Vijay’s manager delivers an earnest performance, Meghna Malik as politico Vimla Tiwari is on-point with her comic timing and is given some funny lines. Abhimanyu Singh as Vijay’s contemporary is comic relief and hilarious in scenes, but for someone with his acting calibre, he is completely wasted in the script. And so is Paritosh Tripathi and Kusha Kapila, who appear and disappear as per convenience.
And the ladies are once again neglected or have very little to do in the film. Nushrratt Bharuccha as Om Prakash’s wife is caring but has a quirky side to her. And even though she doesn’t approve of her husband’s obsession with a star, she doesn’t mind flexing in the front of whole colony when the husband is enjoying his 2 minutes of fame on news channels on TV. Diana Penty as Vijay’s wife exists in the script only because there needed to be an emotional arch to the script and that the superstar can use that track to deliver an emotional speech in the climax. Other than that, Diana doesn’t really get much scope to perform or showing her acting chops. Even her scenes with Akshay aren’t anything great or something that will make you sit and take notice of their chemistry.
Talking of chemistry, I rather liked the song Kudiyee Ni Teri Vibe where Akshay grooves with Mrunal Thakur and the two set the screen on fire. Even the remixed version of Main Khiladi Tu Anari that comes in the end credit is a sure shot party number and not to be missed. In a nutshell, Selfiee ticks most of the boxes that Hindi film audiences look for. So, if you are fine with Akshay Kumar continuing to do Hindi remakes of films from the South, you would definitely enjoy Selfiee, even if you have seen the original Malayalam film. After all, isn’t this what everyone is craving for – mass entertainers that can bring audiences back into theatres.