Cast: Shilpa Shetty, Abhimanyu Dassani, Shirley Setia, Samir Soni
Director: Sabbir Khan
Evaluation: 1 star (out of 5)
by Sabbir Khan Nikamma is so dumb it’s not funny. Not even unintentionally. A sloppy script, rudimentary performances and a storytelling style bordering on silly reduce the action-comedy to two and a half hours of unadulterated nonsense.
For some perspective for what it’s worth, the director’s previous action movies, Heropanti and Baaghiare masterpieces in comparison with Nikamma. Yeah, that’s how utterly ineffective the sound and fury this mindless concoction elicits. It has absolutely no saving grace despite being Shilpa Shetty’s comeback film.
She plays a tough woman who never backs down from a confrontation, whether at home or at work, which leads to at least a few sequences in which she thumbs her nose at the bad guy and, after making her point unequivocal view, strides towards the camera like a model on a catwalk as the background music rises to a deafening crescendo.
Adapted from the Telugu film by Venu Sriram middle class abbey (2017), Nikammatitled by Abhimanyu Dassani and shot in and around Lucknow, seems to imagine its chances of being a meaningful commentary on the troubles the rich and powerful create for those who want to make an honest living in middle-class anonymity in the small towns in India.
All it can become is a trashy actor in which a footless drifter finds purpose in life when his sister-in-law runs into a goon who owns a fleet of unlicensed cabs and is about to win. a seat in the State Assembly. The police and the administration listen to the man until a ‘lady officer’ (the aforementioned sister-in-law) takes charge of the Regional Transport Office.
Much earlier in the film, Aditya Singh (Dassani), faced with a tearful fast bowler proving him right, hits the last ball of an innings out of the park and secures a victory for his team. The story might have us believe that the protagonist is a waster with no future, but with a cricket bat in his hands, he’s clearly a handful.
But Adi is more than that: a middle-class boy who can be a love-boy, if a little awkward, when a pretty girl, Natasha (Shirley Setia), comes into his life and proposes marriage to him on the first glance. Adi, unsure of the consequences of the banter, plays along until things start to get serious.
When a gang of criminals led by aspiring MP Vikramjeet Bisht (Abhimanyu Singh) threatens to take out Adi’s sister-in-law, they transform into a one-man wrecking crew ready to do whatever it takes. it takes to protect his family.
Adi gets off on the wrong foot with his sister-in-law, a strict government employee. A boy from Lucknow raised by his elder brother Raman (Samir Soni), Adi moves away when his brother marries the sensible Avni. The new bride takes full control of the house and Adi doesn’t take the time to figure out he has to transform or ship. He opts for the latter.
Coincidentally, and the sloppy storyline would have it, Raman orders Adi to accompany Avni when the latter is transferred to a place called Dhaami as a regional transport officer. There, she makes Adi do all the household chores much to the guy’s annoyance. Worse still, she confiscates a few taxis from Vikramjeet and refuses to release them despite the latter’s dire warnings.
As all hell breaks loose, the unfazed lady continues to assert that she can fight her own battles – senior apni ladaai khud boy sakti hoon, she says – but Adi won’t get any of it. He circles around her like a 24-hour bodyguard to ward off attacks on her. The family drama turns into an action movie. No matter what, Nikamma remains just that – not good.
Indeed, none of this Nikamma throws on the audience lands right. The gimmicks are laughable, the twists are childish, and the dialogue is incredibly arbitrary in an effort to be humorous. Example: when the tokens have fallen, the villain Vikramjeet announces: Mere naam mein hi jeet hain, main kaise haar sakta hoon, or something to that effect. Apply the same logic to film and you know why Nikamma it’s like that.
Besides the fact that the hero tries very hard to be as rounded a personality as a man can be, but gets nowhere in particular, the villain is a cloying guy who whines and groans when he’s not. doesn’t get what he wants. Worse, he pulls out his gun and points it at his own head – he does this more than once – to settle an argument.
The romance track involving Abhimanyu Dassani and Shirley Setia is an even bigger disaster. He scratches the bottom of the barrel. The heroine calls herself a “love addict” and addresses her boyfriend as “cute”. Adi, for his part, calls it “beauty”. Somewhere along the way, the girl reveals that Adi’s memory is so strong that once he sees or hears something, he never forgets. He’s a “cute” with a “brain” that is rarely used as his fists. As for beauty with the beast, the less said, the better.
Dassani was a hoot in Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota and well above average in Meenakshi Sundareswar. Whether Nikamma does not prove anything at all, it is this: the young actor has potential but he must be much more judicious in the choice of his roles. Here, he struggles to rise above the script.
Shirely Setia is an attractive presence, but she still has some way to go before she can be considered a finished article. The role of Shilpa Shetty has a high loot quotient but is miserably low on genuine substance.
No one gets such a pathetic deal from the script as Abhimanyu. His role is all messy and unthreatening. And that pretty much sums it up Nikamma. It’s a movie that should have stayed where it started – on paper.