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Farhad Dalal
Farhad Dalal
3.5 Star popcorn reviewss


Thank God It Is Friday and we are starting the weekend with a bang! With that I finished watching the sole Hindi theatrical release of the weekend Selfiee starring Akshay Kumar and Emraan Hashmi. It is an official adaptation of the original Malayalam Film Driving Licence, a film that I had absolutely loved!

It was during the second lockdown that I had finally got myself to watching Driving Licence. The reason for its delay was that I had by then already watched Ayyappanum Koshiyum which was written and directed by Sachi who was the writer behind Driving Licence too. Incidently, the core theme of both the films are similar, that of a ego tussle between two alpha males. And both films were previously out within months of each other. Somehow, my excitement for the film wasn’t as high as it usual is for a Malayalam film. But having dragged myself into it, I absolutely enjoyed it and how! Both films were presented so differently that it barely gave you a sense that they were pretty much similar films tackling a similar subject.

Bollywood has often been guilty of presenting adaptations after adaptations, something that I do not approve of wholeheartedly. But if they are presented well, I do not have a problem. And one thing that was going in favour of Selfiee was that Prithviraj Sukumaran was the co-producer here. He was a part of Driving Licence as well and so you needed a person who had previously understood the crux of the film. As a result, the first trailer of Selfiee did gather my attention. It was much better than what I had expected to be, given the recent track record of Akshay Kumar and Emraan Hashmi, both of whom would desperately need a hit now. Finally I did manage to catch its press release and finished watching Selfiee. So then does Selfiee match up to the original Driving Licence, lets find out.

Story & Screenplay

An official adaptation of the original Malayalam film Driving Licence, Selfiee follows the story of a superstar pitted against a police officer at an RTO over a trivial issue that escalates quickly. The story here is pretty good and I was pleasantly surprised as to how close this adaptation gets to the original. If anything, the differentiation did lay in its tonality with the original being quite mellowed down but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the core emotion here not only is intact but slightly enhanced given the current tempest surrounding Bollywood. The screenplay standing at about a 145 minutes is slightly longer than the original but you won’t really feel the difference here!

The drama does begin with the introduction of the two protagonists – one in reel life with a movie playing within a movie, and the other a notable fan of the former. It was important to establish the crux of the relationship pretty well at the start and to the writers’ credit it was done quite well. A minor criticism at the start can be attributed to the fact that the film was not true to the area where it is set in. The location was Bhopal here but the vibe of the city was missing, either through its dialogues or through the surroundings.

If you have watched the original Malayalam Film then you would know that there was a steady sense of world building there with a tinge of humour. The leisurely pace would often allow you to invest in characters better. But the same may not be necessarily true for the Hindi speaking audience. We had previously seen the same in the Hindi adaptation of Drishyam 2 which was edited so minimalize the initial buildup. And the makers do opt for a similar strategy here as well. Which is not to say there was no buildup here, instead, the scenes were shortened so much so that there was a lot happening at any given point of time. Another green tick for the adaptation!

As far as Driving Licence is concerned, we do remember that iconic scene at the police station wherein the tension is slowly escalated to a boiling point. This scene here was deconstructed into being a little less layered and a tad simplistic. But the events before and after that sequence are commendable with the right doses of humour infused within the screenplay. The events are interesting and engrossing with minor tweaks made to the screenplay that doesn’t really change the overall core of emotions.

Speaking a bit about the politics of the drama, it is often seen that the tension between two individuals is brewing primarily due to the people around them. And that is well established here too. The level of misunderstandings that some miscreants can cause was an eye opener here, as was the case in the original. I did like how accurately(and over the top) the media was represented here. While you would assume that the public sympathies would often lie with the common man(which is true), it doesn’t take time before the media can switch sides. And that bit was interesting as well! I also did like how the entire ‘Boycott'(or Boy Cut, Boycoot…take your pick) culture was infused in the screenplay. This made me want to think that the timing of this film in terms of its adaptation was absolutely spot on!

The events leading up to the final act including the elaborate driving test – including the verbal one. And those parts were executed pretty well. If anything, I would have liked if the drama would have been further grounded as opposed to that one over the top sequence that I did witness(which was that one complaint in the original too). But the end is heartwarming and you could feel the warmth between the two characters once realisation sets in. Overall, the screenplay here is a clear winner and almost matches up to the original!

Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues are witty and quite self aware which does make for a solid watch which is hilarious in parts too. But a small gripe being that none of the characters from Bhopal did speak the dialect of the land. The music is good here and the rendition of Main Khiladi, Tu Anari works beautifully here. It was a genius decision by the makers to include the soundtrack that would fit the bill perfectly with the mood of the drama. The BGM is good as well and makes its presence felt amidst the multiple slow motion shots of the characters. The cinematography is good as well and it represents the machismo of the two principal characters really well. The editing is sharp too. Director Raj Mehta does a commendable job here. His skills are really put to test in the crucial second hour which was tricky but he comes out a winner!


The performances by the ensemble cast is terrific. Mahesh Thakur and Kusha Kapila manage to impress in their respective parts. Abhimanyu Singh(his ads had my laughing hysterically) and Meghna Malik are absolutely hilarious and both of them have such incredible comic timing. Adah Sharma scores and scores well in an extended cameo. Diana Penty as Vijay’s wife looks pretty and does a good job despite a limited screen presence. Nushrratt Bharuccha as Minty, Om Prakash’s wife has a few witty lines that she absolutely nails it.

The film marks the return of our very own Serial Kisser, Emraan Hashmi who desperately is in search of a commercial hit. He has always been a prolific actor and it made me the happiest to see him perform here. There is an inherent sweetness to his character of Om Prakash with a hint of innocence. It was pulled off incredibly well by Suraj Venjaramoodu in the original. And so he did have big boots to fill. But he adapts and adapts well wherein the warmth within him is infectious and enough to look past his flaws.

And this film also marks the return of Khiladi Kumar, Akshay Kumar coming off a below par 2022. And here you can see glimpses of the old Akshay in a role which he was more comfortable in. I did like how his character was written to be so self aware, almost at times pulling off a dig at himself. And as Vijay Kumar, he is outstanding to watch! This is probably the best Akshay Kumar films in recent times, and by a margin.


Selfiee is an enjoyable drama with great performances which does come really close to the original Malayalam film Driving Licence. Available in a theatre near you.

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