Director Raj Mehta’s (of JugJugg Jeeyo) ‘Selfiee’ is a comedy-drama film, a remake of the 2019 Malayalam film ‘Driving Licence’ that featured Prithviraj Sukumaran and Suraj Venjaramoodu. Though Selfiee is a remake, the plot, situations & circumstances are slightly adjusted to the sensibilities of Akshay Kumar fans. And that seems to be a letdown. While Driving Licence was very straight forward in showcasing the issue and the resolution, Selfiee is over-the-top, which kills the very soul of the narrative.
We have sporadically seen celebrities, particularly film stars, and their brush with the law. Well known people, at times, have run-ins with the law – situational, circumstantial, or intentional and some have even been behind bars. Some celebs bewail that the law is often tougher on them, however law enforcement agencies maintain that celebrities are not immune to the law and that all citizens must abide by it. Akshay Kumar, Emraan Hashmi starrer ‘Selfiee’, attempts to raise the issue of well-known people riding vehemently over the law and getting away with lesser penalties. But the celeb in this case is presented as more law abiding than what one would expect and vice-versa.
Superstar Vijay Kumar (Akshay Kumar) enjoys the status of a demigod amongst his fans. His cramped schedule doesn’t allow him a single days off, much to the annoyance of his doting wife (Diana Penty). The couple had planned a trip to the US, where she wished to be present to deliver their first child conceived thanks to IVF. Vijay Kumar is all set to complete the last schedule of his film shoot in Bhopal before flying off, but the producer (Akashdeep Sabir) requests him to also complete the climax for which the star needs to drive a vehicle in a sensitive area maintained by the Army. He agrees, but the problem is that Kumar doesn’t have his driving licence, it is not to be found and therefore he cannot be allowed to drive without obtaining a new driving licence from the (local) RTO, Om Prakash Agarwal (Emraan Hashmi), who also happens to be Kumar’s diehard fan.
Om Prakash, the officer, is delighted at the thought of meeting his idol, in flesh, decides to take his young son to get a selfie clicked and make the occasion historic. Somehow Vijay Kumar obliges only to be upset to see the media thronging the office even before he reaches the RTO to fulfil the formalities required for the licence. Scribes fire uncomfortable questions as to how Kumar was driving his car without a valid licence while canvassing for ‘Safe Driving’ campaigns too! The situation enrages Vijay Kumar who puts the onus onto Om Prakash Agarwal for stooping so low for a short-lived fame posing superstar Vijay Kumar as bait.
The misunderstanding between the two escalates into a feud played out in open of the entire country. What goes on between the misunderstanding and the resolution is what the rest of the story is.
What might work
The premise of the narrative is presented to look believable. A worshipped film star cannot be above the law and must face the consequences of his actions. Agarwal is a commoner who not just adores but reveres his hero, and at the same time is a committed and law-abiding officer. Though the face-off between them seems exaggerated and stagy, it works as per the film’s theme, more so in the second half.
What might not
The script tries too hard to highlight Akshay Kumar and his stardom, by mouthing about how busy he is camouflaged with the plight of the character. Even when Vijay Kumar is shown to vulnerable and losing his popularity, he is allowed to behave arrogantly. Maybe, it justifies the superstar status of the character he plays, but on the other hand, it serves as a ploy to make him look both supreme and heroic.
Though Akshay Kumar has a towering persona and literally has a great fan following, here from a viewer’s point of view, the director and the actor both present the real-life sarcasm on screen like how many films and other assignments he does over a period of time, or how when he smiles his gums are clearly visible!
Emraan Hashmi, who has earned a respectable position as an actor, now having done away with his stereotypical romantic ‘serial kisser’ image, is consistently good as the simple, family-loving conscientious officer. But the way his character is portrayed as a fan had to be more polished.
Nushrratt Bharuccha & Diana Penty
The two leading ladies don’t have much to offer per the story. Having said so they look the character and do some justice too. Nushrratt manages to look your next door neighbour and Diana very much looks wife of a superstar.
Director Raj Mehta has in his previous outings handled serious themes in a typical manner in ‘Good Newwz’, ‘JugJugg Jeeyo‘, etc. cramming his narratives with masala entertainment, lets you down by reducing all other supporting actors as simpleton.
Some of the situations, too, could have been far more convincing had they been dealt with some sensitivity. Instead, every serious tone is diluted with comic dialogues and characters who are imperfect, derailing the weightiness of some important developments. It had a deecent premise that could have been either hilariously written, or by adding thrilling moments between entitlement and the principles of the law.
Though there isn’t much scope for songs in between what seems like a face-off between a hero and an official, but there are a few that appear – one at the beginning and another post the finale. The music of the film is composed by Anu Malik, Tanishk Bagchi, Yo Yo Honey Singh, The PropheC, Lijo George-DJ Chetas, Vikram Montrose, Aditya Yadav and Tarun. The song ‘Main Khiladi Tu Anari’ is the remixed version of the title song from the 1994 blockbuster, ‘Main Khiladi Tu Anari’. The other singles are titled ‘Kudiyee Ni Teri’ and ‘Kudi Chamkeeli’.
Just a heartening reason to ‘pick’ your ‘Driving Licence’ for a drive to the theatre only for all the die-hard Akshay Kumar fans as this ‘Selfiee’ is not without its jerks and commotion.
Director: Raj Mehta
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Emraan Hashmi, Nushrratt Bharuccha, Diana Penty, Meghna Malik, Mahesh Thakur,
Duration: 148 Mins