Director Vasan Bala who just got Mumbai’s film industry to sit up take notice of his film Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota is in a happy frame of mind as he sits down for a session of Film-maker Fridays. Abhimanyu Dassani, the hero of the said film too joins in and both are evidently upbeat with all the praise the film has fetched them. It opened to a full house at prestigious festivals like Toronto International Film Festival, Dublin International Film Festival among others.
The combined influence of films of Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak, Satyajit Ray watched on Doordarshan Hong Kong Films, Tamil films watched on VHS as also the Hindi movies of the 90s—Paap Ko Jala Ke Raakh Kar Doonga, Aag Hi Aag among others is quite evident in Bala’s MKDNH, a fond homage to different schools of film-making. As Dassani points out, the tribute in the madcap comic book like adventure is so clever and original that it comes across as a homage and not a rip-off of famous films. Even the heroine of the film--Radhika Madan’s introductory scene set to Kishore Kumar’s famous song Nakhrewaali, is a delightful doffing of the hat to the Hindi movie greats. Dassani admits that it’s the best entry scene written in any Hindi film.
Among Indian film heroes, there’s a special shout-out from the duo to the greats like MGR from Tamil cinema, Shammi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan and unexpectedly, romantic hero Shah Rukh Khan for some admirable action sequences in their films.
“For me personally, Amitabh Bachchan kind of defined everything. The way he used wrestling moves, he is 6ft 3 and the way he could wrap his legs around the villain and tumble and do proper flips. Even in Sholay there is a scene where he runs, flips, picks the gun and shoots—he’s like flawless,” admits Bala.
The film with its central protagonist, a water-sipping Surya, suffering from congenital insensitivity to pain found a suitable fit in Abhimanyu Dassani, given his vulnerable and child-like persona. Dassani who trained four to five hours every day in martial arts for the film has pulled off some rather interesting feat in MKDNH.
Bala admits that the front foot excessive confidence displayed by wannabe actors can sometimes put you off. Fortunately, for him, Dassani, despite his training in acting at Lee Strasberg acting school and being the son of 90s actress Bhagyashree was not one of the overconfident variety. He recalls that the first day on the set was spent walking around and just getting familiar with the proceedings. But he did not complain.
Given their love for action films, it seems like some sort of filmic justice that Bala and Dassani came together for this venture.
That other major presence in the film is Matunga, a pocket of Mumbai, where Bala grew up. Matunga finds its way in the film too with a showcase of life in in the quaint bylanes right down to petty crimes prevalent there like chain snatching! Bala likens it to R.K.Narayan’s Malgudi, admitting that he was in for a culture shock when he stepped out of the neighbourhood into Mumbai when he began working! Surya too mirrors a similar sentiment when he sets out on his first adventure outside of his grandfather’s home in Matunga!
For more fun facts and trivia on Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota, watch the complete video:
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