Movies

‘Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota’ review: delightfully whimsical

A still from ‘Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota’

A still from ‘Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Vasan Bala knits his film with a rare steadiness of zany humour and perpetual energy

Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (MKDNH) is an experience that’s tough to capture in words. Days after having watched it for the second time, I am still smiling to myself as I keep thinking of it. My grin rivaling the infectious one plastered on the face of a lovable Mahesh Manjrekar, the mischievous ajoba (grandfather) of young Surya (Abhimanyu Dassani, who makes a wonderful offbeat debut), his guardian angel and the wind beneath his wings. Surya can’t feel pain and has no comprehension of danger, he has to practice hard at saying “ouch” and learn to keep drinking water to avoid getting dehydrated.

Much has already been written about the film’s nod to the movies of yore, the ode to the VHS era, the martial arts obsession and the back-to-childhood journey it takes the viewers on. All of it makes it a fun and steadfastly entertaining ride, one in which there is lots to savour. For instance, punchlines like “Har mindblowing kahani ke peeche bahut bure decisions hote hain (There are many bad decisions behind every mindblowing story)” or the use of the popular Hindi film trope of lovers separating in childhood to meet again as adults. Then there’s the device of a chain that kicks off the action and a locket that brings things together to a closure of sorts. There’s the off-the-cuff bluster of an entirely anti-cliché Hindi film ma (Surya’s mother, Shweta Basu Prasad is impactful even in a tiny role). Then there is the badass Supri (Radhika Madan, well equipped with both acting and action chops) who is Surya’s savior, rather than vice versa. Yes she has her own demons to tackle which she eventually will, with a little help from her own ma. Talk of smooth gender inclusion, and you have Supri at the centre of the most glorious slo-mo fight scene. While she duels the goons, the Kishore Kumar classic ‘Nakhrewali’ plays on the radio that’s in hands of a kid – who is the star of his own fringe track – within the larger sequence. Delightful!

Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota
  • Director: Vasan Bala
  • Cast: Abhimanyu Dassani, Radhika Madan, Gulshan Devaiah, Mahesh Manjrekar, Jimit Trivedi
  • Run time: 138 minutes
  • Storyline: Adventures of young Surya who has congenital insensitivity to pain and idolises one-legged Kumite champion Mani

There’s an innocence and transparency, a steadiness of tone and tenor, a perpetual energy and the delectable thread of whimsy that knits the film through and through. Most of all, it is the warmth with which director Vasan Bala has created the world, the love and fondness with which every one of the actors has brought it alive that makes one reciprocate the affection as a viewer. You live with the characters for over two hours, care for them and then bring them home with you, right down to Jimmy’s chaiwala trying (unsuccessfully) to show off his moves in the fight club or a security man desperately trying to fill his conveyance voucher or the office babu refusing to issue a gun. Tough to recall when it was last that I found a film so endearing, and an action film at that.

On the second viewing I was struck most by its thoughtful portrayal of the male world. Despite being an action film, that too in these times of all round show of masculinity and machismo, the men in MKDNH are a different kettle of fish altogether. So, while Mani might be a Kumite champion he is embattled nonetheless. His clichéd villain of a twin brother Jimmy is a victim of his own looni-ness (Gulshan Devaiah poised wonderfully between the real and the comic book). Then there’s the three-men family of Surya--the naughty ajoba, the vulnerable, overanxious, paranoid father (spectacular Jimit Trivedi) and Surya himself, protected yet never denied the necessary flight in life. It’s a heart-warming universe of men, each other’s default confidantes, even when it comes to the unutterable matters of sex. They may be struggling with difficult circumstances yet the men of MKDNH never give up on the joys of life.

It holds true of the film as well—there is the affirmation of continuities even at the seeming dead-ends of life, an exuberance in the lowest points, a jocularity even in tragedies. The cheeriness, sparkle and zing is just what the doctor ordered. Buy into the film’s blithe spirit this Holi.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 10:14:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/mard-ko-dard-nahi-hota-review-delightfully-whimsical/article26598476.ece

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