Director: Raj Mehta
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Emraan Hashmi, Nusrat Bharucha, Diana Penty, Tisca Kapadia, Abhimanyu Singh
In the recent film An Action Hero, Ayushmann Khurrana played a film hero’s character on the run after accidentally killing a man. While escaping on a flight, he runs to Akshay Kumar, who plays himself in the film. The two men get talking, and towards the end of their chat, Akshay understands that the other is in a big soup. And while parting, Akshay, in a tone of a senior giving advice to a junior, tells the Ayushmann character (slightly paraphrased), “when you get out,” he pauses for effect, “don’t tell anyone that you spoke with me”. That serious moment, in a trice of a self-deprecatory line, changed tack and instantly brought a smile to our faces. That scene clearly showed that Akshay does not mind taking a joke on himself and his stardom.
As if that was not enough, Akshay now has gone the whole hog and allowed a bunch of mock lines on himself in Selfiee, in which he plays an actor whose stardom closely resembles his real-life one. His earnestness and easy fun is the cornerstone of Selfiee, a remake of the Malayalam hit Driving License. That Selfiee does not suffer the problems of some of the recent Hindi reprises from the South is mainly down to the fact that the director Raj Mehta and his writing team have tweaked the screenplay a bit to accommodate those jokes whose butt is Akshay. It is this fun element that adds a joie de vivre to the proceedings and stops it from being a cold remake — a fate that other such recent ones suffered from.
Anyone who has seen the Malayalam original Driving License would know that film rode on the antagonistic spark between the leads Prithviraj Kumaran and Suraj Venjaramoodu, two of the finest actors in Mollywood now. in Selfie, the exchanges between Akshay and Emraan Hashmi don’t really light up the screen. But truth be told, Raj Mehta does not seem to have gone for that angle at all. Instead, he has chosen to play it a bit easy, and the tonality is more skewed towards droll humour.
The story is essentially about a superstar Vijay (Akshay Kumar), who needs to renew his driving licence to complete a film shoot that involves him driving a car. The transport inspector who has to issue the licence, Om Prakash (Emraan Hashmi) is a die-hard fan of Vijay. So things should be easy and happy.
Om Prakash and his son want to click a selfie with the superstar. But on the appointed day, things get out of hand, and in the emotion of the moment, Vijay ends up humiliating Om Prakash in the presence of his son. Om Prakash is understandably embarrassed and mortified. The excited fan now becomes an emotional enemy. He thirsts for revenge on the star. So what happens in the end?
Om Prakash’s crusading journey has a moral force, but the superstar Vijay is a prisoner of his compelling circumstances. Through the flow of the story, the director manages to throw a spotlight on how top actors and the industry is essentially vulnerable to motivated campaigns like, say, #BoycottBollywood. This recency of the events adds relatability and relevancy.
This is one of Akshay’s easy and effective performances in recent times. As a cornered and helpless superstar, he still retains his wits in more ways than one. Emraan Hashmi’s character in comparison seems under-written, and hence the performance doesn’t quite land. Abhimanyu Singh as another star actor has a role that is caricaturish. In the original, the spoof element of the character also did not seem convincing. The rest of the cast, Diana Penty, as Akshay’s wife, Nushrratt Bharuccha as Emraan’s wife, and Mahesh Thakur as Vijay’s manager don’t have much to do. The music, for a film of this nature, came across as a bit loud.
Selfiee works, mainly because Akshay shows he is a sport for selfies — of jokes on himself, that is.
Director: Raj Mehta
Date Created: 2023-02-24 21:37