It’s just been two months into the New Year and Akshay Kumar is already back making his presence felt at the box office. Selfiee, his latest film that released yesterday without much fanfare, is the remake of a Malayalam movie (Driving Licence) in which the prolific Bollywood superstar portrays the role of a (no prizes for guessing!) Bollywood superstar called Vijay Kumar. Vijay is the ultimate icon for the masses. He plays larger-than-life roles — slaughtering villains, rescuing damsels in distress and romancing pretty young things are all in a day’s work for him.
Among Vijay’s most ardent fans is Om Prakash Agarwal (Emraan Hashmi) of Bhopal, an honest, upright regional transport office (RTO) sub-inspector, whose job is to test potential drivers before handing them their driving licences. Om Prakash’s son also hero-worships Vijay Kumar. So, when the child informs his father that Vijay Kumar will pay a visit to their city to shoot a film, they are overjoyed and rush to catch a glimpse of their hero. They wait for a chance to click a selfie with the superstar but have to return home disappointed. In an unexpected turn of events, Om Prakash has the chance to meet his hero again, but the actor humiliates him in front of his son, which leaves them shocked, humiliated and outraged.
Thus begins the battle of egos between the superstar and the common man which forms the core of the story. The conflict, which starts off with a weak premise, is further blown out of proportion by events that seem lifted out of a B-grade potboiler. An absurd subplot with a jealousy-driven failed actor trying to bring down our hero with the help of a psychic ‘healer’ is totally uncalled for and does not even provide the laughs that it intended. More so when the theatre is populated only with die-hard Akshay Kumar fans and college students bunking morning classes.
For all practical purposes, Akshay Kumar owns the film in every way, being the people’s hero, the loving husband, the mature professional and even showing off stunts like only he can. At the same time, his role as an actor, a star and a ‘family man’ is straightforward enough and the lapses in his character’s behaviour easy to comprehend and pardon. In all fairness, Emraan Hashmi also tries his best to hold his ground in a role tailor-made to earn the audience’s favour. His depiction of a father trying to reclaim the respect and admiration that he had lost in the presence of his son is done realistically. What is more praiseworthy is the way he charts the growth of his character, from a man out for revenge to somebody who respects his adversary and acknowledges the role the latter had in shaping his personality.
With a wafer-thin plot that relies heavily on misunderstanding and miscommunication, credit must be given to both actors for keeping the audience interested in the happenings on screen till the very end. Specially in scenes where the action begins to get a tad tedious, even ridiculous, with the whole country glued to their TV screens watching a game of wits between the superstar and the RTO inspector. Even dialogues from Hashmi like, “Jungle mera, mujhe kehte hai sher” and Akshay Kumar spewing sermons like “Achhe insaan bano... filmein apne aap hit ho jaayegi” fail to pack a punch.
The ladies, Diana Penty as Akshay’s wife and Nussratt Bharuccha as Hashmi’s, seem to be there to make the male leads look more impressive to the audience. The already popular Main khiladi tu anari remix, which accompanies the end credits, features all the main characters and appears like a feeble, last-minute attempt to raise the film’s entertainment and comedy quotient.
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