Starring Abhimanyu Dassani,Radhika Madan, Gulshan Devaiah
Directed by Vasan Bala
When Manmohan Desai used those prophetic words about a man not feeling any pain, little did he know how they would be used decades later in a film that is crazy and outrageous, funny and exasperating. Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota pays a homage to filmy maschismo while at the same time ridiculing the conventions of masculine aggression by nudging prodding and awakening the funnybone as other bones snap crack and shatter.
You see, our hero Surya (debutant Abimanyu Dassani) can’t feel any pain. Neither, apparently can the director Vasan Bala who constructs an edifice of spoofy self-mockery that is unlike anything we’ve seen in our films. Bala wants to deconstruct all the myths that we’ve grown up watching regarding screen heroism.
Which is not to say, everything in Mard Ko Dard… is exciting and bracing. Some of it is that. Some other sections heave sag and groan under the weight of its own appointed mission to dismantle the iconoclasm of onscreen machismo.
Uniqueness blended with an unorthodox treatment of the theme of cinematic valour provides a heady brew of blustering action and one-liners thrown so jauntily that you may think the characters are acting cockier than they should. And they are! But what the heck! A film that dares to cross the line of conventional entertainment has earned itself the right to self-indulgence.
This is a film that bristles with a broadly defiant satire at once embracing and heckling the traditional formulistic Hindi cinema. It is also a tribute to the great Bruce Lee in ways that are hard to explain. But then nothing in this film can be calibrated and normalized. Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota moves at its volition unheedful of whether we the audience are along for the ride all the way. Sometimes the film losses the plot, quite literally.
In portions specially towards the end when a bone-crunching tournament happens on what looks like the frontyard of a middle income highrise which has seen better days. The work seems to buckle under the pressure of being constantly sassy.It ends up bowing and scraping to the very conventions that it seems to scoff.
The performances go a long way in keeping the proceedings constantly off-key without losing track of the original theme. Debutant Abhimanyu Dassani pours his soul into making the painless action hero Surya believable and likeable. Semi-debutante Radhika Madan gives Dassani tit for tat. She has the coolest action sequence in the film where she fights off a car filled with sexual predators to the ironical sound of Kishore Kumar’s song Nakhrewali (from the film New Delhi). She also has a wonderful screen-mother in Loveleen Mishra who urges her daughter to fly the coop rather than a marry an overbearing do-gooder.
But the really interesting performances come from Mahesh Manjrekar as Surya’s precocious grandfather and Gulshan Devaiah who is a riot as twin brothers, one plainly evil the other supremely righteous, both utterly filmy. I think Devaiah got what the director has attempted to do in this film even better than the director himself.