When I woke up this morning, little did I know that I was going to be walking into a theatrical time machine that would take me back to the late ’80s and ’90s, courtesy Nikamma. The film is a remake of Telugu film Middle Class Abbayi, and stars Abhimanyu Dasani and Shilpa Shetty in the lead.
Abhimanyu plays a ‘nikamma’ Adi, who’s pampered by his family and doesn’t have any goals in life. His easy life takes a turn when his brother gets married to a strict Avni, played by Shilpa Shetty. He decides to leave the house and stay with his extended family. But he’s forced to return home and accompany his Bhabhi to Dhaamli after her transfer. Adi’s comfortable life goes for a toss when she makes him do all the household work. However, he finds an escape when he falls in love with Natasha aka Nikki, played by Shirley Setia. Coincidentally, she’s also Avni’s cousin. When she learns about their relationship, Avni separates them, fuelling his anger towards her.
Just as he decides to run away, he learns that Avni isn’t what she seems. He finds out how she’s been protecting him all this time and only wants to help him ‘settle in life’.
While he’s having a revelation, Avni crosses paths with a goon turned politician who is hellbent on killing her. Adi takes it upon himself to safeguard her against the goon and in the process, attempting to prove that he’s not all that Nikamma.
Nikamma is as over-the-top as it could get. Touted as an action-comedy, the film lacked comedy and instead, was filled with corny dialogues which I thought we left behind in the last decade. Abhimanyu Singh, who plays the baddie, makes a Stranger Things style entry and drops lines like “Jo mujhse jeetne ki koshish karta hai, woh apni zindagi haar jaata hai" to induce fear. Abhimanyu Dassani is also given some unfortunate lines to match his corniness.
The lines go so south that the few of us seated in theatre cracked up loudly in the most serious scenes.
The writing is also uneven in the first half, with new sub plots starting even before the previous ones are properly wrapped in the first half. However, things start to look up in the second half, streamlining the story.
Nikamma is helmed by Sabbir Khan, the director of films such as Heropanti, Baaghi and Munna Michael. Much like his previous movies, Nikamma is also packed with an overtly loud Abhimanyu screaming, packing in punches and channelling the hero avatar. While Tiger Shroff had managed to pull off the hero avatar for Sabbir in the past, Abhimanyu doesn’t fit the mould.
While he shows that he could be a typical hero from the ’90s, he feels a tad out of place in the avatar. The actor, who has given unique performances with Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota and Meenakshi Sundareshwar, doesn’t offer something we’ve not seen before. While it is understandable that Abhimanyu wants to attempt a massy film but this didn’t seem like a right fit. Nevertheless, his love-hate relationship with Shilpa’s Avni shows that he can grow a chemistry with any star cast opposite him.
Shirley Setia is unfortunately narrowed down to a pretty face with a contagious smile. The surprise package is undoubtedly Shilpa Shetty. The actress underplays well in the first half, giving Abhimanyu all the space to experiment and win the audience over. However, she walks into the second half like a lioness and eats up most of the climax.
Nikamma is underwhelming. If not for the theatrical release, I’d play the movie on a boring afternoon when I want to have a mindless movie play in the background.
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