Vasan Bala creates a perfect film with smart refrences, intelligently crisp writing, editing and a 2019 return of dialoguebaazi!

Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota is a very very special film. It not only is an homage to the best of the films and the special elements from those films, it actually takes you back on the memory lane of all the Hindi, English, Chinese cinema that we watched, be it the B movies, action films or the classics. The movies we loved and are forever fans of without the algorithm that Netflix and Prime Videos of the world decided for us, it also is a game of spotting those references with joy of watching films like you always did. But the nostalgia alone isn’t the driver of the film.

First Look ~ Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota | Vasan Bala, Abhimanyu Dassani, Radhika Madan, RSVP Movies

This genre film by the internationally acclaimed director is everything! It’s a beautifully told, extremely intelligent film, in line with the modern times masquerading as a pot boiler that tells the stories from the 90s with an ongoing self serving monologue of the protagonist, a double role, a comic relief, a concerned single father who brings in the melodrama and a crime fighting heroine.

The film is Feminist without telling you that it is. The film is a spoof but it is not. The film is inspired by everything that you have ever seen but it is as original as it gets. Vasan Bala delivers a film that the Indian mass audience and the critics of the world can take on each other in a debate about who likes it more. It is full of clichéd drama but that’s the fun part.

Written & Directed by Vasan Bala Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota is a story of a boy Surya (Abhimanyu Dassani) who has a medical condition a rare disorder called ‘Congenital insensitivity to pain’. Growing up, locked in the outskirts family home by his father for fear of losing him he immerses himself in action and superhero films motivated and trained by his aajoba (Grandfather) Mahesh Manjrekar to live like the rest of world and to use his condition like a superpower he grows up fascinated by martial arts and superheroes. It is so satisfying to watch this film for any film fan that you would want to go again and again because you are certainly going to miss the overload of film references in the film.

Vasan’s ode to  to the very best is his very best (Yet ofcourse). His eye for detail can be seen not just in his screenplay but the way he has the film shot by Jay Patel, who too nails it completely, or how the film has been edited by Prerna Saigal (who also happens to be Vasan’s wife)

Mahesh Manjrekar as Suryas aajoba is delightful. The grandfather who is blunt, has no filter and is as real as it gets. He has never been used like Vasan has in MKDNH. Manjrekar comes in the film not just as comic relief but perfectly plays the part of the protagonists friend, philosopher and guide who let’s him be normal and teaches him to be normal and prepares him to be a superhero at the same time, using his condition to advantage when he grows up as opposed to Jimit Trivedi who plays the worried and melodramatic father, who also replaces the yesteryears mother who is always tense and stressed about her child. Jimit plays the part to the T.

Gulshan Devaiah who comes back on screen after a bit too long, mostly because he was nursing a leg injury is brilliant as always as the leading antagonist as well as the twin Karate Mani who fights hundred men despite his handicap. Gulshan is a natural in both the avatars and especially engaging in the scenes where he confronts his own double.

The Villain Jimmy gets the best lines after Mahesh Manjrekar’s Aajoba, that mostly seem improvised and steal the show every single time he is on screen. His comic timing as Jimmy reminds you of the villains of the late 80s and 90s who would joke around and make you laugh while mercilessly killing one man after another by their henchmen. Even Mogambo and Gogo will laugh out loud on this version of the big bad villain.

The child actors who play Supri and Surya are also show stealers and are absolute delight to watch.

Radhika Madan as Supri is such a find. After watching her as Vasan Bala’s super heroine I felt that this was the debut that she deserved and not Patakha where she is completely wasted and misrepresented. She is so pretty, shows tremendous potential as an actor and nails the action like a pro. Vasan’s heroine is the better hero of his film who dresses like Julie Estellea’s Alicia (the hammer girl) from Raid 2 and kicks ass with one roundhouse kick after another. She is brilliant and if this were her debut she would sweep all the debutants awards at TV award shows unchallenged.

Debutant Abhimanyu Dassani is such a good find too. His comic timing, action works through and through. The sweet and charming boy next door who is a superhero in his head and smitten by Karate Master Mani, VHS tapes, Supri and Azobas idea of life is living in a movie within this movie narrating his story to whoever is listening. Abhimanyu couldn’t have hoped for a better launchpad than Vasan Bala’s debut vehicle as his own.

Karan Kulkarni’s music is brilliant. His music is such a breath of fresh air for Hindi Cinema where the musicians restrict themselves with genre and styles just because. It shifts between commercial Bollywood to classic jazz to Vintage to rock as and when, according to the time and situation of the film. So is Prerna’s editing. It’s crisp with sharp parellel cuts, jump cuts and all those cuts that make the film bizarrely beautiful. Prerna adds great value to the film with her unique editing style especially in the action scenes.

The action choreography is a little repetitive in some parts but it is well explained within the characters and geography of the film that doesn’t shy away from telling their shortcomings within the narrative itself. So despite being stretched it doesn’t effect the delivery on screen.

The Art and costume department also complement Vasan’s vision perfectly, giving him everything his story and references on screen deserved right from the geography of the film, time of the film and it’s characters. Not just posters on the walls, or the props that are just lying around (won’t give these amazing bits – BECAUSE SPOILERS) or Abhilasha Sharma’s costumes that take you back to the iconic moments on film in cinema history.

Vasan’s film is not just a film for the day, it is his homage to the film buffs in all of us who do not shy away from our love for the Genre films. There has not been a better film in Indian cinema that does what Vasan does with Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota. If peddler was about rage and angst, Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota Hai is about taking all the good where in both the films Mumbai is the giver. It’s the most difficult job to pull a film like MKDNH without looking like a bad gimmick or a spoof. This film works well  on its own even if you miss all the references (don’t worry, you won’t miss any).

There will be a lot of comparisons from Deadpool because of the way film is made and doesn’t takes itself serious like the Marvel superhero film. Also because Dassani’s Surya breaks the fourth wall through out the film (as seen in the trailers too). It is so meta that you know through out the film that you are watching a film but are still extremely invested in every character till the very end.

Vasan Bala’s first release in India while the multi-award winning Peddlers remains in a box, un-released with Eros International. The RSVP Movies presentation is a blockbuster with or without enough screens due to its clash with the Megastar Akshay Kumar’s Kesari. The film deserves multiple viewings with family, friends and fans of films.

With blockbuster screenplay, action, performances and chartbuster music, there’s not much to not like in the film except for not being more in some parts and just a bit quicker in 1 or 2 parts, and because the fan boy in me could not find much that was missing in this film to make it absolutely perfect, that Vasan’s next film might be.

So I am giving MKDNH 4 and a half star. Because you deserve the film as much as he deserves the audience.

Book Tickets for MKDNH now and after that you can watch Kesari too! But first Mard!