Selfiee is needlessly altered remake

Akshay Kumar and Emraan Hashmi enact a song in Selfiee. Photo: Hype PR 

It was just last week that we had a South remake in Shehzada. That was one film that would have looked better than it was had I not watched its original earlier, but was still made well. In this case, Akshay Kumar, already facing a lean spell, puts his trust in the director of his likable Good Newwz but is likely to add to his woes. This time, I explored the original plotline after checking online and asking someone who had watched the original. I needed to know, after all, why a far-fetched story like this had the worth to be remade.

For despite a mature and nuanced performance from Akshay Kumar as the superstar Vijay Kumar, that also mocks at everything from his stardom to his smile, the film does not make a mark because of the needless alterations from the Malayalam original, Driving Licence (2019). That film won on the critical as well as commercial side, whereas this one will have an uphill battle in the current unpredictable scenario.

Briefly, this story is of a disillusioned and hurt fan, Om Prakash Agarwal (Emraan Hashmi), a Road Traffic officer who issues driving licenses, and his idol Vijay Kumar, and the long one-upmanship that ensues when he, a common man, and the star, clash. As it happens, the first misunderstanding between both of them, as well as the second, are engendered by others, but with calamitous results for both. After all, the bone of contention was the ‘selfie’ that Om and his young son Gabbu (Neev Ahuja) expected to click with Vijay, for both would stop at nothing to watch their favorite on screen and collect memorabilia. And meeting him was a long-standing dream.

Some directors work best in their debut film, and Raj Mehta seems to be one of this tribe. After Good Newwz, his Jug Jugg Jeeyo was no winner: it may have done modest business (but failed on the crucial ROI) but was riddled with needless errors that could be spotted from far away by unbiased, honest vetting of the script while it was being written. A director’s job is not just to handle his actors, but also view the overall content, and this remains this director’s key failing. And for that he needs objective opinions during the scripting stage!

Handling actors like Emraan Hashmi, Meghna Malik (as a crazy politician), Neev Ahuja (as Om’s son) and above all, Abhimanyu Singh as failed star Suraj and Susheel Bonthiyal as Om’s superior very well, he fails in more cardinal areas.

Let us examine them: for one, the most vital part of a movie: the script. While Rishhabh Sharrma’s dialogues are peppy and bright, I cannot say the same for the screenplay. Longer than the original by about 10 minutes, the film’s alterations from the original get into loopy and ludicrous zones. Raj Mehta’s first film, Good Newwz, dealt with surrogacy, and this is thrust in here in place of a more convincing angle in the original.

Also loopy is the whole matter of the way the driving license has been lost and is now needed. The aspect of the drunk in the original has been ignored, which was a key point here. These are all silly and totally avoidable mistakes made just to differentiate the remake from its original source, but subtract from the appeal of the film.

A vital aspect in Raj Mehta’s cinema is the total absence of even decent music. Eight “music makers” are roped in for less than that number of songs that are pure noise. The ubiquitous Punjabi (which has to be mixed with English in such cases) flavor also comes in, spiraling the downward graph, and the sole decent number is the Anu Malik re-creation from Main Khiladi Tu Anari, which is done in a completely raucous manner in the end credit-titles.

To give credit where due, the last 15 minutes of the story have been handled deftly and are emotionally satisfying in the way the fan and star relationship pans out, and the other aspects settled. These sequences also have a welcome amusing side. But again, there is a lot of vagueness in the time element of the star flying out to see his wife and surrogate child.

The two heroines, Diana Penty and Nushrratt Bharuccha, have little to do, but Diana does it much better! Mahesh Thakur is sincere as the star’s manager despite his funny getup.

But here’s wishing that the film’s making was as sincere. After the fate of the much superior An Action Hero some months back, where we saw a superstar land in serious trouble because of an angry “fan”, I doubt whether this film will work as the box-office, because cinematically, it could have been much, much better. It has little to compensate for its weaknesses, which could have been all avoided by honest script vetting.

Moral of the story: Numerology in titles do not make a movie, sensible and good content does. Period.

Rating: **1/2

Dharma Productions, Cape of Good Films, Prithviraj Productions, Magic Frames present Selfiee  Produced by: Hiroo Yash Johar, Karan Johar, Aruna Bhatia, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Apoorva Mehta & Listin Stephen Directed by: Raj Mehta Written by: Sachy & Risshabh Sharrma Music: Anu Malik, Tanishk Bagchi, Yo Yo Honey Singh, The PropheC, Lijo George-DJ Chetas, Vikram Montrose, Aditya Yadav & Tarun  Starring: Akshay Kumar, Emraan Hashmi, Diana Penty, Nushrratt Bharuccha, Mahesh Thakur, Akashdeep Sabir, Abhimanyu Singh, Kusha Kapila, Meghna Malik, Susheel Bonthiyal,  Neev Ahuja & Sp. App.:Adah Sharma & Mrunal Thakur



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