Heropanti 2: I am the worst film of 2022. Yet. Nikamma: Hold my beer! Having endured Nikamma with exactly one other person — who had the good fortune to walk out midway through the film — in the movie theatre on Friday morning, I wonder why such films are made. Is it just to fill a vacant slot on a Friday? Is it a shot in the dark (quite literally) to throw just about anything at the audience and see what sticks? Or is it to reinforce the fact that Bollywood, whose creative bankruptcy is more evident than ever, is trying to stay afloat by churning out yet another remake of a south Indian hit? ‘All of the above’ is a perfectly acceptable answer.
Nikamma, the remake of the 2017 Telugu film Middle Class Abbayi, only scores with its name. The film is a dud in all departments, painfully dull at its best and gratingly loud at its worst. That comes as no surprise considering the film is directed by Sabbir Khan, the man behind similarly intolerable exercises like Heropanti, Baaghi and Munna Michael. Sabbir Khan’s only claim to fame — besides making us brave through Tiger Shroff in almost all his films — has been to make Sylvester Stallone spit out “Kambakkht ishq” in his utterly forgettable debut film.
His latest is possibly the stupidest among all of them. Which is no mean feat. Nothing in Nikamma makes sense, and neither is the nonsense it peddles even remotely entertaining. Middle Class Abbayi, an average film on all counts, was at least propelled by Nani’s boyish charm and his endearing chemistry with Sai Pallavi. Nikamma rests squarely on the shoulders of Abhimanyu Dassani. The young actor, who impressed on debut with the off-centre Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, screams and scowls as he pummels 10 men to pulp with one strike and makes bodies fly in the air. The only dard here, however, is felt by you sitting in that plex seat and dying a little as the minutes tick by. The torture called Nikamma never ends.
Abhimanyu’s Adi is a good-for-nothing guy who is sent off to accompany his sister-in-law on her new assignment. Shilpa Shetty, as Adi’s bhabhi Avni, looks spiffy in crisp cotton saris, but that’s about it. Adi has an eidetic memory, which means he can recall everything by just looking at it once, but that’s never really focused on. The source of his superhuman strength is also a secret. All he does is spout lines on how tough life is for the middle-class Indian and protecting Avni from Vikramjit, a local goon and aspiring MLA. Abhimanyu Singh, who plays Vikramjit, is otherwise a fine actor, but here he’s strictly one-note, and is made to deliver lines like, “Middle class jitna senti hota hain, rich utna hi mental”
When Adi isn’t taking panga with the villain, he’s left to sing songs with girlfriend Nikki (Shirley Setia). Adi and Nikki call each other “cutie” and “beauty”, but the chemistry (or the lack of it) between Abhimanyu and Shirley could make Antarctica freeze a million times over. Nikamma lumbers on for a butt-numbing 152 minutes before it glibly attempts to bring in a twist in the tale. Even that makes no sense.
Nikamma is the kind of film that we had thought we had left behind in the ’90s. Clearly, we aren’t out of the woods yet.
Cast: Abhimanyu Dassani, Shirley Setia, Shilpa Shetty, Abhimanyu Singh
Running time: 152 minutes