- Release Date: 21/3/2019
- Cast: Abhimanyu Dasani, Radhika Madan, Mahesh Manjrekar, Gulshan Devaiah
- Director: Vasan Bala
Surya (Abhimanyu Dasani) is born with a rare disease which makes him impervious to pain that result in him living a life that his more than normal father can’t fathom. His grandfather (Mahesh Manjrekar) is the only person Surya can lay back on and the man takes the kid under his wings understanding his situation and making him equipped to deal with the world around him. The two also share a common passion for the 80s – 90s Bollywood and often drift away in a world of fantasy and wish fulfillment shunning their less than satisfactory existence and past.
Young Surya soon meets Supri (Radhika Madan), an apparently timid girl who springs into action every time Surya’s classmates bother him. They soon form a friendship that renders them inseparable. However as luck would have it, something terrible happens that ensures that Surya is grounded in a house far away from the hustle and bustle of the city where he is forced to grow up in seclusion. Supri, on the other hand, ends up with her abusive father and “victim of abuse” mother. As the two grow up, their paths cross after a decade when both of them are brought together by the plight of a man who they both revere.
Vasan Bala’s Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota is as outrageous as it is engrossing. In essence, its Bala’s love letter to a city and its people that he loves to the core. If one looks closely, the film doesn’t have that much of a McGuffin on which the mayhem that ensues can be hinged. It is as if the protagonist and all those associated with him were fed up of their boring and uninspiring existence and decided to just go after the silliest thing that they could use as a reason to put up a fight for and turned that it into a battle as much for the thing at stake as for a means to go beyond what their existence up till that point was.
Surya, after the fateful incident, has spent most of his childhood indoors and guarded by a father who has made it a point to ensure that he does nothing that can hurt him or anyone else. In ensuring his son’s safety he has also willfully robbed him of the little joys and miseries that growing up is and left him desperate to break his shackles and move out into a world that he doesn’t know much about. Add to that his obsession with his favorite Martial Artist from whose videos he has learned all that he needs to know to be a vigilante, his longing for a mother who was taken away from him by a petty chain snatcher and his dreams of being someone to deliver swift justice to all the chain snatchers in the world so that no one has to suffer the way he has without a mother and you understand how he went all guns blazing after what is the McGuffin in the film.
Supri was in her own elements when she was with Surya. However after they were torn apart, she settled into an uneasy alliance with someone who is not only demanding but also like a rein that bridles Supri’s kindred spirit. She decides to accept her fate and go along with it as this individual seems to be providing her all that she needs to help her mother and support her family. But when Surya re-surfaces, she gets another chance at life. If that was not enough, her revered Martial Arts teacher’s honor is also at stake.
Gulshan Devaiah plays the twin brother Mani and Jimmy. While Mani is a one-legged Karate Legend, Jimmy is a crook who has fought against all odds to own a huge security firm. He is also someone who is up to no good. Jimmy hates Mani and often bullies him. Mani who can easily tear his men apart and even defend himself against Jimmy is unable to do so as he is weighed in by something from his past which initiated the rift between the two brothers. However, when Jimmy takes away his most prized possession and Surya arrives on the scene to inspire him to do the right thing, Mani comes into his own.
Vasan Bala beautifully intertwines these characters into a story that at no point of time feels undercooked, outrageous or for that matter unbelievable when you are watching it. The conflicts, the situations, and the tragedies are real and they motivate the actions of our protagonists and antagonists. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of comedy that this film had. Every character in the film has some amount of comedy associated with it.
Gulshan Devaiah only comes to the fore in the second half but from the moment he is on screen, the audience is going to roll over laughing. He exudes comedy in almost every scene that he is a part of. The twins that he plays are starkly different from each other and it was a masterstroke playing them in a manner that he does. There is no caricature or over the top mannerisms used to extract the humor. Most of it is very intelligently done and situational. I point to remember here is that a lot of the comedy is extracted based on pop culture references. For example, a character is referred to as “Pablo”. This was a scene where I nearly fell off my chair. For someone who has not seen Narcos or for that matter doesn’t have any idea about Pablo Escobar, it will mean nothing. There are multiple references to masala potboilers of yesteryears in dialogues like “Paap Ko Jala Ke Rakh Kar Dunga”, “Gireftaar”, “Ankh Ke Lazer Se Jala De” etc which will appeal to only those who know of its genesis and the history associated with it.
Apart from all that I wrote above, there is a lot more that the film has to offer.
The Action: The film has spellbinding action that is marked by innovative action choreography and clutter free editing. One can easily follow the blows and enjoy what is unfolding on screen without having to let it unfold in their minds. The use of slow motion is wonderful and it does help to make the action that much more accessible. Both Abhimanyu Dasani and Radhika Madan move like pros through their action sequences and you never for once question their physicality. The fact that they are very different people when they are not fighting only highlights their exploits when they go out bad-guy bashing.
The Performances: Multiple times before we have had action heroes who could dance but for once we have an action hero who can act. Abhimanyu Dasani is the perfect face to play Surya and he plays the lad with such heart and charm that after a while we can actually read his mind and feel his tragedy. I wouldn’t have recognized Radhika Madan had I not know that she was the same girl from “Pataakha”. She is so pristine and poised in her moves here that it felt as if she was a totally different person. However, she reserves her best for the sequences that she shares with her on-screen mother. There are two of those and both of them are exceptionally warm and meaningful. Mahesh Manjrekar makes a wonderful comeback in a role that suits him to the ‘t’. He is in so many ways the emotional core of the film and it’s wonderful to see him torn between his care for Surya’s safety and allowing him to spread his wings.
Gulshan Devaiah is a class act all the way through. He is the funny bone of the film and every word that he speaks is bound to extract laughter. Even when he is just speaking his mind, he is funny. Devaiah plays both versions of the character with equal ease but one has to agree that Jimmy easily takes the cake for being the more enterprising of the lot. The scene where we meet him for the first time is insanely fun. The climax was no lesser when he tries to be a referee in an all-out fight. Suffice is to say that one has to see his act to understand how wonderful he actually is.
The Technicalities: Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota is extremely well directed, beautifully shot and aptly scored. It isn’t easy for a director to show one-third of a film through his child actors. Vasan Bala had the courage to do exactly that and it pays off heavily. Both the child actors playing Surya and Supri do so well that they set up the two characters in the best possible way for their older versions to take over. Kid Surya yells to Supri … “Ankhon ke laser se uda de” and Supri looks back at her oppressor with enlarged and fixed eyes as if she had the power to throw laser beams at him. This is a sequence that is as comic as it is satirically tragic. The film is peppered with many such deft touches that tell us how well directed it is.
The cinematography is wonderful. Be it the action sequences, the sweeping shots of the city or the more humble visuals wherein we are in the innards of Surya’s dwelling or for that matter the house of Mani. The cinematography captures every frame with elan and keeps the visuals fresh. The editing is uniformly brilliant. It gets the mood of the film right and uses fast cuts, swipes, slow motion and every other trick in the book to match up with the content at hand. The background score doesn’t work as a queue for the audience to react. Instead, it works in tandem with the visuals and editing to compound their effects.
As far as the negatives go, one may sight the film as outrageous, lacking seriousness and plain out impossible which it is. But if one asks me, I refuse to see this film as it is presented. It would be the best idea to see the film as unfolding in a whacky dream of Surya who might be bedridden or just sleeping. If one agrees to do so, the film becomes a whole new beast and in so many ways resembles an actual comic book film in line with what we see unfold. In a dream anything is possible and that’s exactly what is the case with this film. Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota is easily one of the most innovative and well-made films to have come out of Bollywood in years. I am extremely glad that a film like this was even made and that is probably a big victory going by the assembly line garbage that we are served up week after week. This is the kind of film that should be enjoyed on the big screen and I urge all my readers to definitely watch this film at a theater near you. It will blow you away for sure.
Rating: 4.5/5 (4.5 out of 5 Stars)