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Exclusive! Sabbir Khan: I wouldn’t have thought about remaking Middle Class Abbayi as Nikamma if the original were a huge hit

Nikamma, slated to release in theatres on June 17, marks Shilpa Shetty Kundra's comeback to acting and marks Shirley Sethia's acting debut. It would also be the second film that features Abhimanyu Dassani after Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota.

  • Shaheen Irani

Last Updated: 01.59 PM, Jun 16, 2022

Exclusive! Sabbir Khan: I wouldn’t have thought about remaking Middle Class Abbayi as Nikamma if the original were a huge hit
Middle Class Abbayi - Nani, Nikamma - Abhimanyu Dassani.

Sabbir Khan, known for giving Tiger Shroff his huge hits in Heropanti and Baaghi, is back, this time with Abhimanyu Dassani-Shirley Sethia-Shilpa Shetty Kundra starrer, Nikamma. The filmmaker spoke to OTTplay about his films being remade, why he doesn’t like the concept of remakes and what made him want to remake a South Indian film as Nikamma, among other things. Excerpts…

You have always been a part of original films and never sequels. You gave Tiger Shroff his big Bollywood launches through Heropanti and Baaghi, both of which are now a franchise. Is this your personal thought - to just stick to the original film rather than explore franchise films?

I am not averse to franchise films. In fact, I have quite enjoyed a few. It’s just that I feel they should be organic and planned at the script level and not come as an after-thought business proposition.

The film has been in the news for quite some time. Shilpa had promoted the movie on Bigg Boss long back. Where was most of the delay in the making of the film - shooting, pre-production or post-production?

We were shooting our last schedule in march 2019 for a June 2020 release and like mentioned, we even appeared on Bigg Boss but unfortunately COVID struck and we had to stop shooting when we were literally eight days away from completing the shoot. As a producer too on this film, I thought of my unit first and decided to restart the shoot once things settled. We literally had to wait eight months for those eight days. Once we finished the shoot and go into post-production, the second wave hit so you can imagine.

While this could be a big launch for Shirley Sethia, it also brings back one of the most loved 90s actress Shilpa Shetty back on screen. Did that make you extra conscious that everything should be on point with this film?

Not at all because though I am a filmmaker, I’m an avid cinegoer first and try to be aware and on point always. There was no reason to be conscious of anything. Shilpa was as nervous as the newcomers on the film and wanted to be treated as one with kid gloves.

Explain to me the idea behind the title.

See, every youngster most definitely goes through a phase in life where they are aimless and couldn’t care less until they change for the better. They are oscillating between having more fun or being responsible. I needed a title to suite that generation and then, I hit upon the word nikamma. It just hit home because this is something every Indian house already has – a nikamma.

What made you want to remake a film that received a mixed response in the original version? Did you believe that if you add some elements to the movie, it could be a hit in Hindi?

I am glad you asked this question because for me movies are not just about doing business. It’s also the sheer joy of telling stories. If this was huge hit film, I wouldn’t touch it. I really liked the story and I felt that I could work on it and take it to a wider audience. I have worked very hard on the screenplay and the audiences will get to see an entertaining film that balances between great family values and an action thriller.

Considering how people are loving South Indian films at this given point, do you think it is a great time for Nikamma to release in theatres?

Whether it’s South Indian or North Indian cinema, the audience gives love and due respect to cinema that entertains.

With the changing times, do you think the audiences will completely move towards arthouse cinema in Bollywood and explore commercial cinema elsewhere?

This stereotyping and boxing of cinema and filmmakers has been prevalent since ages and continues. Why can’t artistic cinema be commercial and mainstream cinema be artistic? It can. There can be sensible balance.

What are the OTT release plans for Nikkama?

It will drop on Netflix after the due course of its theatrical run.

Your upcoming projects?

I am currently completing a supernatural thriller that I am hugely excited about. It is called Adbhut and stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Diana Penty, Shreya Dhanwanthary and Rohan Mehra.