TIFF ’18 Premiere: The Man Who Feels No Pain - Winner of The Grolsch People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award
By Fatima Husain
Indian Director Vasan Bala’s The Man Who Feels No Pain (Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota) is the first Bollywood film to be featured at TIFF’s Midnight Madness program. This Bollywood-Masala-meets-Stephen-Chow action film won The Grolsch People’s Choice Madness Award at the festival.
The Man Who Feels No Pain is a story of Surya (Abhimannyu Dassani) who suffers from a rare genetic disorder; Congenital Insensitivity to Pain (CIP), making him insensitive to any kind of pain. As his condition translates to be more of a curse than a boon for his family, Surya is forced to grow up in isolation. It is then – in his juvenile years – he discovers his love for martial-arts and practices the craft secretly in the dark. His sole teacher: VHS tapes filled with punches and kicks of the likes of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.
Although Surya decides to become a martial-arts super hero, he has a weakness; dehydration. Surya is forced to wear water-filled backpacks to avoid passing out.
© TIFF Trailers | YouTube
One fine day, Surya is gifted his much-awaited freedom to the outside world and finds himself in socially awkward situations. It is then when he meets his would-be love interest; fearless Supri (Radhika Madan) and childhood idol; Karate Master Manni (Gulshan Devaiah). The trio then gets trapped in a gory duel with Manni’s gangster brother. A big bloody fight is what follows.
There are plenty of pop-culture references throughout the film seasoned with finely honed martial arts that spice up the narrative.
Abhimannyu Dassani – the debutant actor who plays the role of Surya, has a charming persona, which adds warmth to the naïve onscreen character. Bollywood newcomer Radhika Madan – who plays the daring Supri, is more than a mere female sidekick in the film – she personifies an existence of her own and works in equation with Surya.
In an exclusive interview with VIBE105 News Desk Coordinator Fatima Husain, Vasan Bala (Director) and Abhimannyu Dassani (Lead Actor – Surya) speak about the preparations that went behind the Bollywood-action-comedy fusion.
Director Vasan said: “Martial arts has been an intrinsic part of Bollywood, even though there hasn’t been many out-and-loud martial-arts films. It has been around but not explored thoroughly.”
Speaking about the action sequences, Vasan said: “We got action directors from Los Angeles who were stunt men and would make small entertaining YouTube videos. I got in touch with them (Eric and Dennis) and they came about as great collaborators. We spoke the same language of cinema, loved the same films and (agreed upon) the same style of what the film needed. So, it was a mix of home-grown talent and Eric and Dennis coming together and forming that universe for us.”
Talking about the casting process, Vasan remarked: “More than the skill (martial-art), we were looking for a character – a vulnerable human being, who is charming and who gives that vibe and Abhimannyu had that vibe. He also had the martial-arts’ skills as well as good dancing skills which audiences of Bollywood will witness.”
“We were aspiring for the Midnight Madness program at TIFF because it ideally is the first audience for this style of Bollywood genre.” – Director Vasan Bala.
Speaking about his lead character – Surya, actor Abhimannyu said: “In order to prepare for the film, I commenced about six-eight hours of martial arts’ and gymnastics training every day – for about eight to nine months. There was a lot of study into human anatomy, biology, sports rehabilitation and medicine to learn the kind of information Surya would have (due to his medical condition).”
In order to adapt to Surya’s psyche, actor Abhimannyu said: “Three months before the film, I went into isolation and did not speak to anyone as being socially-awkward is an integral part of the character.”
Watch the Q&A with the Cast and Crew of The Man Who Feels No Pain here:
© TIFF Talks | YouTube
Albeit a two-hour-plus run time, The Man Who Feels No Pain serves as an enthralling fun flick for the audience. Therefore, there is little left to wonder why the film received standing ovations by excited audiences at both its Midnight Madness screenings during the festival.
*Editor’s Note: The Man Who Feels No Pain as screened at the Toronto International Film Festival ‘18.
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