Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota: Bhagyashree’s Son Abhimanyu Dassani is All Set to Win You Over
In an exclusive chat, Abhimanyu Dassani talks about working with Vasan Bala, debut film Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, mother Bhagyashree and hopes for the future.
Abhimanyu Dassani’s Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota was the opening film at this year’s Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival. (Image: Instagram/Abhimanyu Dassani)
Abhimanyu Dassani is no regular star-kid. Though his mother Bhagyashree charmed an entire generation with her innocence in the 1989 blockbuster Maine Pyar Kia, she made sure Abhimanyu was away until he was ready.
“I was actively kept away from the film industry by my parents. I am not really an insider. You won’t see me at any red carpet events or parties,” Abhimanyu says.
But today, he is awaiting the pan-India release of his debut film, Vasan Bala’s Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, which won the top honour (People's Choice Award: Midnight Madness) at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
A tribute to old-world action films and legendary martial-artists, Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota has Abhimanyu playing a young man who feels no pain because of a rare disorder called congenital analgesia.
Also starring Mahesh Manjrekar, Gulshan Devaiah and Radhika Madan in important roles, it opened at the ongoing 20th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival to rave reviews and rousing applause.
However, acting wasn’t always on Abhimanyu’s mind. In fact, making his film debut at 28, he thinks he is “very late in life”.
Before he began assisting Rohan Sippy on films Dum Maaro Dum, Nautanki Saala and Phata Poster Nikla Hero, Abhimanyu studied finance and built and sold several companies for profit. In fact, it was his love for creating new things that drew him to filmmaking. “I realised that I had a passion for creating something, and what better place to do it than the film industry,” he says.
Abhimanyu’s reason for doing Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hot a was simple—he wanted to work with Vasan. He got involved with the project much before anyone else was roped in. “I was with him every day. We’d discuss almost everything from the films we loved to my character Surya’s quirks, his backstory or anything else even remotely related the film,” he says, adding that they they’d got so close that Vasan would start a sentence and he would finish it.
In fact, to better get into Surya’s psyche, Abhimanyu shut himself in his house and cut off from everyone for three months before the shoot started. Everyone, except Vasan, of course.
“My mom was so upset. She was the most upset about the food. I would not even answer when she’d ask ‘aaj sham ko kya khayega’,” Abhimanyu says.
While we were chatting, Bhagyashree was watching the film in the auditorium next to us. Abhimanyu says she was overwhelmed after watching the film’s trailer, which released earlier this year. “She had tears in her eyes.”
“She pulled me and said ‘you have to be next to me when I am watching the film’ but I said, ‘No mom, I can’t, you know. I need to be with the rest of the cast’.”
Since Abhimanyu plays a karate protégé in the film, he had to undergo extensive and grueling training to get his body and the action sequences right. “I trained for nine months, nine hours a day—which included doing everything from laathi training to swimming and meditation,” he says.
The result shows. The fights in the film have an authentic indigenous feel to them, are brilliantly choreographed and as effortlessly executed.
Other than Vasan, the one person Abhimanyu bonded with during the shoot was Mahesh Manjrekar, who plays his grandfather in the film. “I am still in touch with him. Vaastav is such a beautiful film! He is like a cinema school in himself. There’s just so much to learn from him, it’s amazing,” Abhimanyu says.
“He would come on set, I would touch his feet and then crack a joke on him. That’s the equation we share. I loved working with him,” he adds.
After a debut that has got everyone talking, Abhimanyu is clear about what he wants next. “The strategy is to make good cinema, something that I’d like to watch. I want to make films that are timeless, that don’t lose their relevance after the hype around them dies down.
“Irrespective of their genre or budget, I want my films to make lasting impression over the years. That’s what I aspire to,” he says.
He has a wish though. To work with Alia Bhatt, who was three years his junior in school. “We went to the same school. I’d love to work with her. And Ayan Mukerji,” he says.
Follow @sneha_bengani for more.
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