Had to shed my fear of punching someone: Nivetha Thomas on prepping for Saakini Daakini

Comedy thriller ‘Saakini Daakini’ is a remake of the Korean film ‘Midnight Runners’ and stars Nivetha Thomas and Regina Cassandra in the lead.
Nivetha Thomas
Nivetha Thomas
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The upcoming Tollywood comedy thriller, Saakini Daakini, has fans intrigued because both the main leads are female. Though it is common to see two female leads in Telugu movies, they are always accompanied by a hero. Starring Nivetha Thomas and Regina Cassandra, the movie is all set to hit the big screens on September 16. A remake of the 2017 Korean film, Midnight Runners, it revolves around the crime of egg trafficking. Directed by Sudheer Varma, the film is produced by Suresh Productions, Guru Films and Kross Pictures.

Ahead of Saakini Daakini’s release, The News Minute caught up with Nivetha Thomas, who plays Shalini, referred to as Saakini, in the film. The actor spoke about her preparation for the role, the reasons behind the change in the gender of the leads from the original film, and about her newfound love for Korean content and more.

Nivetha started her career in Tollywood with Gentleman (2016) and since then has surprised fans with her unique script choices. In Saakini Daakini, she will appear as a trainee cop who fights against a trafficking crime ring that is involved in egg harvesting. Explaining how she prepared for the role, Nivetha said that the physical transformation for Saakini Daakini has been the most strenuous for her so far. “Shalini is a very athletic person, a kabaddi player. She has certain physical traits that I had to pick up from scratch.”

She adds that she learnt to emote with her body and not just facial expressions. “I joined a martial arts academy for about three months to learn the right techniques to shed my inhibition and fear of punching people. I learnt how to channel rage, anger and all of that into the fight.”

While action and comedy are two different facets, Nivetha had to perform both in the movie with ease. “While action scenes were definitely difficult to perform, with comedy the pressure is in getting a reaction from the viewers, the wait is even harder. If I don’t hear giggles, it’s going to be very disappointing.”

Nivetha reveals that Vadivelu, Vivek and Brahmanandam are her favourite comedians and says that it’s an absolute blast to watch them on screen.

The Saakini Daakini team opted for two female actors, as opposed to the male leads in the original Korean film, in sync with the sensibilities of the Telugu audience. The movie team believed that the female actors will convey emotions convincingly and the story also becomes more personal as it revolves around women victims.

On the idea of roping in female leads, Nivetha said that the credit goes to Samyuktha, a team member from Suresh Productions. “We are talking about egg trafficking, in which young women are clueless that they are involved in a crime. How will a woman react to such a crime? I’m well aware this is not a comparison of strength, it’s about standing up to something that they know is dangerous. It is quite nice to see two women leads; also, everything is amplified for the better, the emotional quotient and everything.”

Speaking about the chemistry with her co-actor Regina Cassandra, Nivetha says, “We worked together really well, it was super effortless and great fun. It was important to realise that one character is not superior to the other. Shalini is well aware of her limitations and Damini knows her strengths too.”

For Nivetha, Midnight Runners was the first Korean content that she eagerly watched. Since then, she has become a fan and has been watching a lot of Korean series and movies, including K-dramas and K-pop. Having watched Train to Busan, Squid Games, Extraordinary Attorney Woo and Parasite among others, she says she particularly loves how they gently develop love stories that are fresh and the amount of layers that a character has.

Nivetha also feels that it’s a great time to be in the movie field, as every language industry is doing great work. She adds that though good films have been made since long, it’s only now that they are getting proper recognition due to better exposure.

The actor has a Telugu and a Malayalam film in the pipeline.

Watch the trailer video of Saakini Daakini here:

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