Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota movie cast: Abhimanyu Dassani, Radhika Madan, Gulshan Devaiah, Mahesh Manjrekar, Jimit Trivedi
Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota movie director: Vasan Bala
Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota movie rating: Three stars
Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota. The title is cheeky, nudge-wink naughty, and instantly makes you smile. Similar comic book capital descriptors are strewn through the film, the best being `Cliché Psychotic Villain’. Said villain is up against a young lad with super-powers, and there is your good vs evil conflict. Now when did we see this before?
Vasan Bala’s second feature (his first, Peddlers, remains unreleased) is a combination of many things: a nostalgia-doused nod to Bollywood masala, peppered with identical twins, childhood sweethearts, and stolen lockets, as well as the cheesy chopsocky movies which featured such lean-and-mean martial arts heroes as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.
That our hero Surya (Dassani) has a congenital disorder which prevents him from feeling pain is shared with us right in the beginning. That he has an equally chiseled chest as Lee and Chan is revealed right at the end, but that he has killer karate moves is evident right through the film, as he goes about saving the world. No, scratch that: he’d rather go after chain-snatchers, and locket thieves, and rescue the girl he loves.
The film sometimes feeling too stuffed with clever inside jokes, and film references. There is an entire passage which is full of people being kicked in the face, and trying to escape from airless rooms, which feels endless. Some of the japes don’t land, or settle with a thump, and you miss the stamp of consistent inspired lunacy which would have made this a break-out film.
But there’s a self-aware streak of fun which saves the film from itself, and those are the bits which are hilarious. The debutant Dassani plays his man-who-is-taught-to-say-ouch when he sees blood, with a pleasing straight-faced earnestness. Madan is coiled and cute, matching Dassani in the action department: how nice to see a leading lady kicking serious butt, even if her back-story isn’t entirely convincing. Manjrekar is clearly having fun as Surya’s genial grandpa, and Devaiah is a blast as the bad guy in oversized red plastic glasses, snapping orders at his henchmen.
It is the kind of film in which you are not supposed to dig deep for meaning or logic. A character helpfully tells us as much. Mard works best when it is klutzy and bouncy and light on its feet, and those are the parts which help us go past the occasional flatness: many people in the theater where I saw it were laughing out loud.