Selfie Movie Review: An earnest GV Prakash stars in this gripping actioner
Mathi Maran's debut directorial, Selfie, is a well-written, well-crafted film aided by good performances
Selfie offers the reassurance that there are still stories out there that tap into the barebones of the human condition. Director Mathi Maran takes the essence of real, human characters—their basic instincts—and puts them in concerning situations and lets the drama write itself.
Selfie follows Kanal (GV Prakash Kumar), a rural youngster who, after joining a second-tier engineering college in Chennai, realises that he and his father (Vagai Chandrasekhar) have been scammed by the college administration into paying lakhs of money for a worthless seat. Kanal realises that his indulgent college life is expensive and that he needs to find a source of income that can break his economic ties with his father. He gets sprung into the world of an underground admission racket, headed by Ravi Varman (Gautham Vasudev Menon), that involves big names and top-tier colleges in the city. Kanal, along with his friend Nazir (DG Gunanithi) and a few other classmates, go against Ravi's monopoly and begins to scale up the ladder only to find himself in a quagmire that threatens to destroy his life and that of his close ones.
Director: Mathi Maran
Cast: GV Prakash Kumar, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Varsha Bollamma
Thanks to the laudable screenwriting and editing, Selfie begins briskly and keeps getting better. Mathi Maaran sets up this world meticulously, with each shot adding to the story and giving us just the right amount of information to keep it all engaging. Even the romantic track between Kanal and his girlfriend (Varsha Bollamma) turns out to be useful in the bigger scheme of things. Kanal and co are repeatedly forced into complicated situations, and there are no easy exits, which makes sure you are left quite breathless.
At its core, Selfie is the story of a son and a father. This is why at every major juncture, Kanal's dad makes an appearance, and it is beautiful to see how flawed characters of this world falter, only to realise the good life they had earlier. Though such a story—of an ordinary man's fight against an overpowering system—could have easily lent itself to ‘mass moments’, the director admirably chooses to focus on the emotional moments, and by doing this, it is the writing that turns out to be 'massy', not the hero.
In one of the pivotal moments in the middle of the film, a character tells Kanal, "Unakku ellame speed-a nadakkudhu". This line about rapidity could be said of the film too, and this feature is its USP. Unfortunately, the resolution of the film feels rushed and convenient, and almost ends up affecting the overall experience.
Good performances help though. From Vagai Chandrashekhar to Varsha Bollamma, every actor gets a moment to shine and yet, the film can be said to truly belong to GV Prakash. It is enjoyable to see how even in songs, we see Kanal, not GV Prakash. Likewise, Gautham Menon gives his all, playing the menacing Ravi Varman, and he manages to communicate the intimidation through dialogues and even with the relatively less screen space he gets. Ravi's masterstrokes are subtle, yet frightening, and Kanal is constantly forced to mount resistance.
GV Prakash's songs and background score are rooted in the storytelling and help elevate the tension. Debutant Mathi Maran has clearly made the most of his resources and a largely new cast to deliver a serious, self-aware film that depends largely on its good writing.