Emraan Hashmi turns out to be the saviour of the underwhelming film.
Last Updated: 05.24 AM, Feb 24, 2023
Vijay Kumar (Akshay Kumar), a Bollywood superstar, requires a new driver's licence from Om Prakash Agarwal (Emraan Hashmi), an RTO official who is a devoted fan of the actor. But a miscommunication causes a verbal battle between the two that finally turns into a public fight in front of the nation's media.
What's the new definition of "borderline cringe"? Something I watched on a Thursday evening and am processing even now. Yes, I am talking about Selfiee, the Hindi remake of the 2019 Malayalam film, Driving License. Here's a film that brings back the "Fan Saga" of a superstar vs. his fan. The 2016 film showed how an almost-lookalike fan of the superstar (Shah Rukh Khan) makes his life hell for not getting the respect he feels he deserves. The film shifts into stalker mode, with SRK de-ageing into a 25-year-old man chasing his idol between life and death.
Selfiee is a story about a fan who is an RTO official and treats the release of his idol's film like a festival. Well, that means almost every two months, because this idol does four films a year along with two OTT releases. It's "har din Diwali" for Om Prakash Agarwal (Hashmi), who believes that his hero Vijay Kumar (Kumar) is the best superstar ever. Things take a U-turn when Vijay visits the RTO office for his driving license, and due to the media's presence, he loses his calm and assumes that Om has called the media for fame. This big misunderstanding leads to a war between the superstar and his "biggest" fan. Thus begins the hashtag trend to pull down the superstar for getting away with breaking the law as he drove cars without a valid license. The ego clash between a common man and a celebrity becomes uglier when several other people get involved and add fuel to the fire.
For the Malayalam movie that Jean-Paul Lal directed, the late Sachy wrote a fantastic script. In 2020, the late filmmaker-writer released Ayyappanum Koshiyum, another tale about a testosterone war. Despite their similar premise, both films had a striking difference that set them apart. However, Selfiee is given material, but both writer Rishabh Sharma and director Raj Mehta fail to even recreate that magic in Hindi.
There are so many scenes that make you ask, "Why was this even included in the film?" It doesn't stop until the end. It starts with Abhimanyu Singh playing the rival, who, to survive, features in the cheapest of the cheapest TV commercials. Every time he comes on screen, you just have to wait to gag, knowing that something obnoxious is going to happen in the sequence.
It just doesn't stop there. Nowadays, female actors in films are also reduced to "fart" jokes, for heaven's sake. Most of the mean jokes are posed at female characters in the film, and they are zeroed down to being "bimbos." But credit where credit's due, except for Diana Penty, who had that aura of being a star wife.
Selfiee becomes a loud, motormouth film due to these sequences, which are the major distractions from the main topic it intends to discuss. Though it was of the masala genre, the film had the potential to be a potboiler given that a two-hero project is a rarity in Hindi movies.
However, Akshay Kumar is the film's weakest link, bringing inconsistency to his performance. There are several nods to his real-life personality, including being called a "producer's actor," as he doesn't waste time and wraps his film within 40 days, as he claims. Moreover, even his "masoodon wala smile" comes into the picture, as that's something that elicits an opinion from others. At the end of the climax, though, his self-proclaimed stardom overshadows everything else and makes him seem shallow. To their core, the unrealistic expectations of a superstar running and jumping the fence when not on set are unbelievable. In the process of making it believable, it just turns out to be an ignorant act.
Meanwhile, Emraan Hashmi turns out to be the saviour of the film, and well, he gets the accent right. An actor of his calibre has previously been underutilised in Hindi films; however, Selfiee gives him a chance to shine and lends his shoulder to carry the underwhelming film forward. To be honest, the actor is a treat to watch, as he brings a breath of fresh air compared to watching Akshay's continuous, similar performances from the past couple of years.
If Diana Penty shone in the little part she was offered, Nushrratt Bharuccha did the exact opposite in her portrayal as a small-town girl. Even Meghna Malik doesn't make you laugh, despite her efforts to be a comic character.
The second half is too long, with a sequence similar to Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) and the H-test for the license. As the film inches towards the end, the emotional quotient should have risen, but you become deadpan with the all-untangling that brings no depth.
Even the music of the film, which includes songs such as Main Khiladi, Kudiyee Ni Teri, Kudi Chamkeeli, the title track, and the rap track Sher, is probably good enough for reels but not to be a part of your playlist.
Shah Rukh Khan once said, "One day, I have decided that I will take seven days off and click selfies with anyone who has a mouth to speak and fingers to type with." Raj Mehta's Selfiee had enough material to show how a celebrity is zeroed down to a selfie and can also be brought up to that. However, it doesn't work enough, and you might want to take a U-turn on it.
Selfiee is Raj Mehta's third outing after Good Newwz and Jugjugg Jeeyo. But it's the weakest of the three, even though it's a remake of a movie that was good enough on its own to be a pure entertainment.