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This article was first published 1 year ago  » Movies » Selfiee Review: License To Drive Crazy

Selfiee Review: License To Drive Crazy

February 24, 2023 10:14 IST
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Malayalam cinema isn't the same as Telugu or Tamil, but Bollywood's blanket approach fails to see the distinction in Selfiee, observes Sukanya Verma.

The last time Akshay Kumar appeared on screen, he played a movie star telling his colleague-on-the-run to admit to his crime after unintentionally bumping off a sort-of fan on the road.

In his latest too, he plays a movie star, only this time he's at the receiving end of his number one fan's wrath over a driving license.

The crisis in Selfiee is infinitely smaller in scale, but the media circus it gives rise to resembles the spoofy outcry in An Action Hero.

As telling that is about the state of affairs, at the centre of Selfiee's fracas is the age-old bond between film folks and their fans where the latter's only nightmare is their idol turning out nothing like they dream, a scenario captured in Shah Rukh Khan's Fan.


Director Raj Mehta's Hindi remake of Driving License, Lal Jr's Malayalam hit penned by the late Sachy, chronicles a no-nonsense superstar and motor vehicle inspector clashing over pride and permit.

Malayalam cinema isn't the same as Telugu or Tamil, but Bollywood's blanket approach fails to see the distinction.

Where Sachy's narrative nuances and leading man Prithviraj's superlative complexity elevated its storm in a teacup premise into a believable tussle of privilege and entitlement, Selfiee's need to expand on an already overstated discord only highlights the slightness of the problem rather than give a glimpse into human fallacy.

Over mat kar, Akshay Kumar scoffs at a guy towards the end of the movie, which begins with him giving a little dedication speech to his fans.

The actor's politics of earnestness -- an image-conscious celebrity known to make news for paying the highest income tax in the country, apologising after endorsing harmful tobacco, promoting menstrual hygiene to Nandu and the world, magnanimously agreeing to take only three fourth space in a movie full of women or announcing his decision to renounce his Canadian passport right before the release of Selfiee -- makes him tailor made for the part.

Selfiee plays to his self-aggrandiSing imagery and, unlike the original, is a tad sympathetic towards his fan as well.

In Driving License, the common man is made to eat a humble pie at every juncture.

Here, he gets a moment or two of herogiri in Emraan HashmI's smart aleck skin. For all his zeal, Hashmi strikes a bit uppity for the part and cannot quite pull off a 'bechara'.

Another crucial change is the superstar's predicament.

In the original, Prithviraj's irritation stems from his personal problems and frustration of not being able to accompany his wife abroad for medical treatment. In the remake, the hero is far less rankled, his wife fit as a fiddle.

And so, much ado about nothing begins when Bollywood star Vijay Kumar (Akshay) arrives in Bhopal for a shoot.

Owing to a bureaucratic glitch, his driving license isn't in place, which he urgently requires for filming a car sequence and saving the panic-struck producer of his over budget project before flying off to the US with his wife (Diana Penty, her emerald diamond ring is all that caught my eye) and welcome their baby out of surrogacy (Raj Mehta's superficial preoccupation with fertility continues after Good Newwz, which dealt with IVF pregnancy).

Hiring a stunt double would have saved him from a world of trouble, but where's the fun in that?

Enter his biggest fan and RTO inspector Om Prakash Aggarwal (Hashmi).

Both Om and his school-going son are Vijay's biggest admirers and grab the first opportunity to meet their favourite and expedite his paperwork. But a silly misunderstanding gets in their way ensuing in a war of egos.

Fuelling this conflict for foolish motives is Om's wife's favourite (a spunky but underused Nushrratt Bharuccha), a faded, ageing actor (a droll Abhimanyu Singh) whose cheesy comedy track is forcibly linked into the central plot. Ditto for the bumbling local politician (Meghna Malik) trying to gain mileage out of Vijay Kumar's star presence in her jurisdiction.

If at all there are any genuine comic moments, they involve Akshay and his fidgety, flashy producer Akashdeep whose significant other Sheeba played the Khiladi's heroine in his third release, Mr Bond, which released in 1992, the same year two of the actors Akshay prances around in Selfiee -- Adah Sharma and Mrunal Thakur -- were born.

But the Bollywood hero neither ages nor does any wrong.

He'll pass all the tests.

He'll answer all questions.

He'll win over his fans.

He'll win over his foes.

He'll have the last word.

He'll even romance a heroine half his age, but she'll be the one with issues ranging from flatulence to fertility.

Pose next to him at your own peril and you'll soon find out the hero you want is not always the hero you need.

Selfiee Review Rediff Rating:

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