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LIFF 2019: Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota (The Man Who Feels No Pain) Movie Review

Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota (MKDNH) created history by becoming the first-ever Indian film to play at TIFF’s Midnight Madness segment and now it is being screened at the London Indian Film Festival.

Surya (Abhimanyu Dassani) is born with the rare condition of Congenital Insensitivity to Pain.

Often confined to the four walls of his house to avoid physical injuries, under the tutelage of his eccentric grandfather (Mahesh Manjrekar), Surya finds an escape through 80s martial arts films on VHS.

Inspired by what he sees Surya sets out to become a martial arts expert like his hero, the one-legged Karate master, Mani (Gulshan Devaiah).

Years later, he is reunited with his childhood friend Supri (Radhika Madan) and both get confronted with circumstances that might just need them to bring out their Karate skills!

Combining fast-paced edge of your seat action with delirious cinematic pop culture references, MKDNH promises an exhilarating crowd pleaser.

Redefines the ‘Masala’ Genre in Indian Cinema

As the trailer exhibits, Mard delivers exactly what it promises. Quirky characters, spellbinding, good acting and of course, hard-core action sequences.

In fact, the film includes 100% impact fight and we can truly feel the effect of every kick and punch. Kudos to the action team and Abhimanyu for pulling it off.

Despite the mass action stunts, the movie tactfully steers away from exuding toxic masculinity… Which is so refreshing to watch.

Director Vasan Bala pays homage to not just old school Hindi cinema, the superhero genre, mixed-martial arts cinema and comedy.

There were reports of the movie being inspired by Deadpool and Kick-Ass, but this is certainly not the case.

If we think about it, the story of the film seems like a typical 70s Hindi movie:

Two lost brothers, an amulet, a female protagonist with an abusive father and an ambitious yet caring hero.

But despite including these traditional tropes, Bala presents it in a wacky, tongue-in-cheek manner by merging that with the backdrop of today’s society.

The film completely changes the image and definition of ‘Masala’ films.

Also, it is perhaps one of the first Bollywood films to bring Congenital Insensitivity to Pain to widespread attention.

In the process of doing so, the movie does not undermine the condition and at the same time, it showcases how this ‘weakness’ becomes the strength.

MKDNH also tackles quite a few issues which are quite prevalent in today’s society. This has been done subtlely.

Vasan Bala’s Extraordinary Vision as a Filmmaker

As such, the film is narrated through the inner monologues of Surya.

The way he constantly switches between the parallel narratives to reality highlights how Indian cinema and martial-arts is his only life, given that he is closed off from the world for so many years.

Vasan Bala’s vision as a filmmaker is terrific in representing Surya’s filminess and pop-culture passion.

Supri’s introduction scene proves how unconventional Bala’s directorial style is.

In this scene, we see her single-handedly bashing up a few goons while Surya observes her and enters a dreamy state and so the ‘Nakhrewali’ song from 1950s film New Delhi plays in the background.

When it comes to the technical aspects, the film scores BIG points. From Prerna Saigal’s sharp choreography to Jay Patel’s spellbinding cinematography, the movie is a visual treat.

It is so great to see that upbeat songs are used as the background score, rather than loud music which pulls on the heartstrings. 

The film also incorporates animation briefly as well as several slow-motion sequences. 

Cast Performances

The cast performances top up MKDNH‘s cinematic excellence. 

To begin with, Abhimanyu Dassani makes an impactful debut. His slightly childish demeanour and action-packed physique are balanced well. 

So far in Bollywood, we have seen actors who can execute great action stunts and dance sequences but lack the acting flair.

Abhimanyu, however, is an exception to that. He is a breath of fresh air and will blossom even more as an actor in the future.

Radhika Madan was dynamite in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Pataakha and she yet again leaves a solid impression.

We get to witness more of her calibre as an actor and she is definitely here to stay.

Gulshan Devaiah essays a double role. One is of the Karate master, the other as the ‘cliched psychotic villain’ – Jimmy.

Devaiah shines in both roles and at times, it does not even feel that he is playing a double role.

He displays every shade in Mani and Jimmy effortlessly. He is incredible.

Mahesh Manjrekar and Jimit Trivedi are great in the supporting roles of the grandfather and father, respectively.

It’s also good to see Jimit getting roles that display more of his calibre, rather than restricting him to just comedy.

What Could be Improved?

Evidently, there are a lot of strong and positive factors for MKDNH and there are no major glitches or flaws, per se.

However, we see that there is a lot of importance given on how Surya must stay hydrated in order to survive thus we see him carrying a rucksack most of the time.

But for a few minutes, we see Surya without it, which seems quite odd given that we see him constantly sip water throughout the film.

This scene is later justified through the rainfall, which apparently keeps Surya hydrated.

Also, the story becomes quite predictable towards the second-half.

But the good thing is that the cinematic aesthetics never fail to impress and that outweighs all the flaws.

Overall, Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota Hai is outstanding and challenges the paradigms of ‘Masala’ Hindi cinema.

The pop references, visual appeal, hardcore action and impactful acting ensures high octane entertainment. A must watch! 

⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars)

The Bagri Foundation London Film Festival celebrates a decade of bringing the best new South Asian films to the UK, with 5 cities, 25 venues and 25 specially curated films.

It starts on 20th June 2019 in London continues until 8th July 2019, at cinemas across the UK.

For more on the festival, please visit: http://londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/

Watch the festival trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNdLixFRPf0

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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