Despite some clever pointers and Akshay Kumar in his element, Selfiee is not exactly an insightful reflection upon fandom/stardom : The Tribune India

Despite some clever pointers and Akshay Kumar in his element, Selfiee is not exactly an insightful reflection upon fandom/stardom

Despite some clever pointers and Akshay Kumar in his element, Selfiee is not exactly an insightful reflection upon fandom/stardom

Film: Selfiee

Director: Raj Mehta

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Emraan Hashmi, Nushrratt Bharuccha, Diana Penty and Abhimanyu Singh

Nonika Singh

Who in India is not aware of the fan frenzy or the maddening obsession for that prized selfie with demigods, aka superstars? In times when instances of fan craze are acquiring more than a frenzied tone, the subject of Selfiee is undeniably valid. Never mind that it’s not quite an original idea. Apart from the fact that there have been films like Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Fan delving into the mind of a fan and recently An Action Hero, a quirky look at stardom/ fandom, Selfiee is a remake of Malayalam film Driving Licence.

So here we have superstar Akshay Kumar, who tells us at the very onset of the film how this isn’t his story but that of fans. Soon enough we are introduced to his super-fan Om Prakash Agarwal (Emraan Hashmi), who watches Akshay’s reel self, Vijay Kumar’s films first-day-first-show, adorns his idol’s posters with garlands and dances to his songs not just in packed halls but at home too. All this is indeed relatable in a country where fandom and hero worship know no bounds. His school-going son is a party to his fan hysteria. The fact that Om Prakash Agarwal happens to be an inspector in driving licence department is not accidental, but an important element in the script. For it’s his position, even if not quite exalted, which will bring him face-to-face with his idol, who by the way does not have a driving licence. How Om Prakash turns from fan to a foe is where the frisson of the movie lies. Interval promises you a nail-biting contest.

Power-packed dialogue jab seedhe saadhe admi ki satkati hai toh woh kis had tak ja sakta hai might delude into believing that here’s to the power of the common man. But the film does flip flop and if at one moment it’s rooting for the fan, at the very next for the superstar. Clearly it’s not just the janta janardhan and the media that is fickle minded. So is the film’s stance which seems to be on a sticky ground. Besides, the exercise to clone the hyperventilating TV anchors has by now become so customary that it is no longer amusing or provocative.

Director Raj Mehta, who gave us the delightful Good Newwz on a surrogacy experiment gone wrong, brings in the surrogacy angle here too. # Boycott Bollywood, rise of social media and how public that makes stars can mar them figure in the narrative. But the screenplay does justice to none of the issues it brings to fore. Yes some clever pointers are there. Vijay Kumar’s film is not called Don’t Angry Me, just for the heck of it. Akshay gets some cheeky wisecracks too. Then Abhimanyu Singh playing Vijay’s rival and actor of sleazy films and ads does make us look at the not so sunny side of stardom. But few things truly add up.

Besides in the face-off between a fan and a superstar, the resolutions are rather convenient and mostly in favour of stardom. The driving licence test of the superstar in full media glare sets the stage for some adrenaline rush, but ends up more staged than real. Perhaps, the only takeaway is that you learn a few lessons on driving rules. The only time the film touches a chord is in its final message.

No doubt the relationship between stars and fans ought to be amiable and full of love, and we rejoice at the idea. But by then tedium has set in and gotten the better of us. Indeed, it’s refreshing to see Emraan Hashmi on screen after a long gap. He is earnest for sure, only his character arc is rather limiting. Akshay’s reel image is tailored around his real one; a producer’s actor, family man etc. In more than a scene we do see what makes this actor with superb comic timing a superstar. However, since the script goes out of the way to establish him as one, there isn’t much to reflect upon.

In this duel between a star and fan, heroines get to do little even though Diana Penty looks beautiful and Nushrratt Bharuccha sprightly in a small part. Loud background score sticks out like a sore thumb and Selfiee falls short of being a self(ie) reflection on stardom/fandom and is only a lukewarm entertainer.