Director's Cut: 'For Nikamma, Shilpa Shetty Kundra insisted that I treat her like a newcomer,' says Sabbir Khan

The filmmaker talks about his latest release, working with the actress, nepotism and more

Rohit BhatnagarUpdated: Friday, June 17, 2022, 06:53 AM IST
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Pic: Instagram/sabbir24x7

Filmmaker Sabbir Khan’s latest film Nikamma has released today (June 17). He is known for helming films like Heropanti and Baaghi. The Free Press Journal caught up with him for an exclusive chat.

When asked if he still gets jittery just before the release of his films, he shares, “I was never nervous or jittery. I am happy that my film Nikamma releases today in the theatres after the pandemic.”

Courting commercial cinema

When questioned about having an understanding of commercial cinema, he says, “I never think about box office numbers, but the consistency in making masala entertainers comes from the cinema I grew up watching. I choose a story that lands well with some drama, humour, action and music. In Indian films, music is a unique point in them. I make films for the whole family, it’s not been one style of filmmaking, and that’s been a pattern.”

On the unusual title Nikamma, he reveals, “The story is about a guy who is of a certain age, and he is completely aimless. If you translate that, it becomes Nikamma. And, such people remain clueless until something happens to their family.”

The seeker of fresh talent

Sabbir has always given a launchpad to new faces, be it Tiger Shroff, Kriti Sanon or Nidhhi Agerwal, in the past and with Nikamma, popular YouTuber and singer Shirley Setia is making her acting debut alongside two film-old Abhimanyu Dassani. Opening up about the same he states, “When the production house of Nikamma approached me to to co-produce and direct the film, I asked them if they wanted to follow the routine and cast a known actor or if they were interested in infusing fresh talent. When the story was locked, I met Abhimanyu, my team showed me Shirley, and we auditioned her. She was perfect for the role written in the film.”

Shilpa Shetty Kundra returns to the silver screen

Shilpa Shetty Kundra is making her theatrical comeback with Nikamma after a sabbatical of 14 years. Sabbir reveals, “It was the most tricky part to cast Shilpa. I needed somebody who had the dignity and sensibility of the older generation and also had a connection with the youth. Whenever I saw her on television, she was very warm. I approached her and heard it, but she insisted that I treat her like a newcomer only!”

The nepotism debate

Abhimanyu is a star kid, and the nepotism debate is never-ending. “I launched Tiger, and now with Abhimanyu, that baggage will only work if the parents have that kind of a cloud in their days. When I launched Tiger, Jackie Shroff was going through his lowest phase. While filming Nikamma, both the parents weren’t involved. There was no baggage.”

In the near future...

On a parting note, Sabbir spills the beans on his upcoming film slate. “I am on the verge of finishing my next film Adbhut, which is a supernatural thriller and stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Diana Penty and Shreya Dhanwanthary. I haven’t explored this kind of a genre ever,” he signs off.

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