Is Selfiee really as bad as its box office business suggests?

Release Date: – 24/02/2023

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

Director: – Raj Mehta

I watched Selfiee in the recently upgraded Eleye Cinema Hall of Jorhat, Assam. Eleye has a long history in the Assamese film exhibition business. It came into existence in 1937 along with Jonaki Cinema Hall in Tezpur which was established by the revered Rupkonwar Jyoti Prasad Agarwala himself.

Eleye remained closed for almost 2 years and now its owners have revamped it to such an extent that it is in a position to give some of the swankiest cinemas in Guwahati a run for their money. There are two screens and one of them is enabled with Dolby Atmos sound, making it one of the only 2 theaters in Assam to have the technology. It would not be wrong to say that I was more interested in watching a film in Eleye than the film I was watching. The Assamese singing icon, Zubeen Garg inaugurated Eleye and now it is drawing more crowds than the INOX at ABS mall, Jorhat.

Getting back to the film, I didn’t hate Selfiee as much as many of the viewers and critics are hating on it online. While it is in no way an extraordinary film, it does enough right to keep you hooked from start to finish. I only rarely got jittery as I felt that it should not have been more than 2 hours long and it ends up
being 20 minutes too long.

One of the first things that made the film enjoyable for me was its story. While the story has no surprises and anyone watching it with the slightest of attention can predict every twist and turn, it has that unique David versus Goliath stand-off vibe that is oh-so alluring. A story of this kind will always resonate with you because of its nature. You either connect with the character of Vijay Kumar (Akshay Kumar) or sympathies and identify with the character of Om Prakash Agarwal (Emraan Hashmi).

As the story progresses, you are sometimes confused about whom you should support as the screenplay shows us both sides of the story and cleverly tries to divert our attention and make us feel that the big star is showing his dirty side and trying to destroy the less privileged RTO officer. This results in the audience being forced to take a side between the two and that in turn ensures that you are hooked on the
the narrative from start to finish.

The story alone could not have done the trick. The makers needed two bankable stars who were actors and who knew how to sell the characters. This is where the film scores heavily. Akshay Kumar is basically playing himself and it is evident that he is in his comfort zone. He quickly makes the character of Vijay Kumar his own and brings in nuances that instantaneously enhance the appeal of his essay and lead to
the character becoming not only integral to the narrative but also impactful. He incorporates features and factors from his own life like his gummy smile, his understanding of his producer’s needs, his prolific speed at churning out projects, and references these factors in a way that will definitely put a smile on
the audience’s face.

Emraan Hashmi, on the other hand, does exceedingly well as the biggest fan of Vijay Kumar who is angered into a face-to-face with his own hero when he insults him in front of his kid. The initial portions where Hashmi is shown to be enamored by Vijay Kumar and the simplicity that he is able to bring to these scenes wonderfully set up the character. His camaraderie with his son is beautifully captured too which adds a lot to the later scenes when his son is at the receiving end of torture and ridicule, and you see the impact of that on Hashmi’s character. As the film progresses, we see this simple and starry-eyed fan of Vijay Kumar transform into one of his biggest foes. The things that he does to get one up on Vijay Kumar are questionable but are presented in such a manner that we are still able to sympathize with the man. Thus, it is these two characters that basically play out the film between them.

I have to mention Abhimanyu Singh and his short bursts of comedic appearances that were absolutely hilarious. While it was too over-the-top but the comedy was so on your face and Singh had such perfect comic timing that it was impossible not to enjoy these sequences.

That brings me to the comedy of the film that though is subtle and sparingly peppered but easily one of the biggest fortes of the film. The comedy takes a back seat in the second half of the film but it still makes its presence felt in a scene or two. I really thought that the film needed a little more comedy since it had two such versatile and efficient comedic actors to reckon with. Then I also believe that too much comedy would have liquidated the seriousness and the climax of the film.

Where the film falters is in its utilization of Bhopal where the film is set. It begins by flashing Bhopal in capital letters on the screen but never aspires or attempts to use the city as a character. That is something that many Bollywood films of late have started doing and with great results but that is something that is not done here. There isn’t a single defining factor of Bhopal that is utilized here or one that is underlined. The character traits of the people of Bhopal or how they react to a tussle of this
nature is never explored. They could have put this story anywhere and it would still remain the same.

The two actresses, Nushrratt Bharuccha and Diana Penty are criminally underutilized. They have so little to do that I was surprised that they even chose to be in this film. The parts played by Kusha Kapila and Adah Sharma though shorter were a lot more noticeable and had at least some identifiable traits to them. Nushrratt Bharuccha gets irritating after a while and that really surprised me since she has always
been a proficient actress.

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Selfiee doesn’t look like a film that was made for theaters and it was not. It was actually aiming for an OTT release but was released in theaters for some reason and it shows in its uninspiring visuals and underwhelming scale. I haven’t seen the original and that proved to be an advantage for me. For the ones who have seen the Malayalam original, there is absolutely no need for watching this film as there is just not enough novelty in the story to demand a repeat viewing. For the fans of the two stars, this might be a good watch but then the fans can easily wait for the film to come to OTT which should not be too long going by its current business. Thus, all said and done, while Selfiee is in no way as bad as the critics and the audiences are telling you, it isn’t all that good either to spend your precious money on buying cinema tickets. Wait for this one to come to OTT.

Rating: 2.5/5 (2.5 out of 5 Stars)

The views expressed in this article are that of the reviewer and do not reflect EastMojo’s position.

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