Finally a film that lives up to its title.

Shipa Shetty, Abhimanyu Dassani and Shirley Setia in ‘Nikamma’ poster


Cast: Abhimanyu Dassani, Shilpa Shetty, Abhimanyu Singh, Shirley Setia

Direction: Sabbir Khan

Evaluation: *

Play in theaters

On Friday morning, for the first show of Nikammadirector Sabbir Khan’s remake of a Telugu film, middle class abbey, I had the whole theater to myself. It was like a private opening for someone with expensive popcorn.

The 2017 Telugu film, starring Nani and Sai Pallavi, was a theatrical hit. But its Hindi version, I suspect, will start lingering on Netflix’s “Recently Added” list sooner than expected. This means that transliterating stories and characters doesn’t always work. That means stories have to be adapted, characters have to be changed to fit their setting. It also means that a director who has so far devoted most of his time to making dhishum-dhishum Tiger Shroff Movies – Heropanti, Baaghi, Munna Michael – you can’t trust to succeed even a banal and tasteless melodrama.

True to its title, Nikamma (Useless) is a wildly incompetent B-grade movie that can’t deliver two decent dramatic moments despite a setup that’s an old tried-and-tested recipe for cheap jollies – Laxman saving Sita, Sita saving Ram, and Ravan shooting each other in the face. head to escape all this hopeless chaos.

Nikamma takes place somewhere in the Hindi-speaking world where two brothers live, both single. The eldest, Raman (Samir Soni), is inconsequential. His younger brother, Adi (Abhimanyu Dassani), is the nikamma from title and consequence to story.

Raman works, earns and adores Adi. Adi loves that sound said bhaiyya Raman loves her.

Adi apparently has a photographic memory which he uses to somehow win local cricket matches. Otherwise, he does nothing but laze around and ask his bhaiyya, chachi and chachaji for money.

Then Raman marries Avni (Shilpa Shetty) and Adi feels left out. So he sulks, calls his bhabhi “Ma’am” and go live with her chacha-chachi.

Avni is transferred as the regional transport officer of the small town of Dhamli and Raman asks Adi to come with her and stay with her.

This is really where the film takes off, except it’s the flight of an inept hen.

In Dhamli lives Vikramjeet Bisht (Abhimanyu Singh), a bug-eyed don who runs a taxi service and dreams of becoming a local MLA.

He also does some weird things to himself, including wrapping himself in black garbage bags and trying to choke himself to death. He says these exercises in self-suffocation, which he stages to impress his motley two-bit crew goondas, are intended to test its mortality. Nothing, it seems, can kill him except his own stupidity.

When he’s not trying to kill himself, bushy-browed Bisht kills anyone who creates trouble for his deputy.

Avni, straight and strict, begins to investigate why public transport in Dhamli is suffering while a taxi service is thriving. This puts her in direct conflict with Crazy Bisht.

Adi, on the other hand, is sulking because of all the household chores he has to do. But he finds a happy distraction in Mrs. Flouncy Skirt Natasha (Shirley Setia), a student.

But then Badman Bisht threatens Avni with a gun, and Adi, like all sanskari Indian devars, don’t like it at all. For the rest of the film, Bisht and his henchmen keep trying to kill Avni, while Adi keeps trying to save her. Except that Anvi really doesn’t need to be backed up.

I last saw Abhimanyu Dassani in Vasan Bala’s 2018 superhero movie, Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota. I enjoyed this movie a lot and enjoyed watching Dassani’s flying stunts and cute expressions. There was a charming freshness about this son of Bhagyashree.

Dassani can still kick and slide, jump and punch well. Its limbs move quickly, but it cannot act. So he exaggerates. It could have been controlled by a sharp and competent director, which Sabbir Khan is not.

Shilpa Shetty is a decent actress who has taken on some risque roles and delivered some memorable performances in the past. In many of them she played a stoic and kind woman. That’s what she does here – her Avni looks like a mother bhabhi to Adi who is also a diligent and conscientious officer. With pursed lips, an enviable height and quick kicks, Shilpa Shetty does her job competently. But writer-director Khan fails him. In fact, the most basic scenes of Nikamma are so tacky that it took extra effort to make the film live up to its title.

About Debra D. Johnson

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