BY RENU MEHTA, TORONTO:
Vasan Bala’s film The Man Who Feels No Pain (Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota) won the People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award at the Toronto International Film festival (TIFF) beating out Assassination Nation and Halloween. It was the first time ever that an Indian film was included in the Midnight Madness program of TIFF
“I have been going to Yonge Dundas Square and seeing all these Bollywood films. And I thought it was high time an Indian film was featured in this program,” said Peter Kuplowsky, festival programmer at the festival screening to a 1200 house full of audience members at the Ryerson theatre, urging everyone to watch Bollywood films.
The Bollywood-infused action film tells the story of a young man literally born with the ability to feel no pain who watches a video and strikes out on a quest to vanquish 100 foes.
“It was all arts and craft in 4th Grade when I cut cardboard and glued it together and went on stage. This is a similar feeling. First you write the script, and you are not meant to make the film,” said Bala accepting the award along with Radhika Madan and Ankur Nayyar at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 16. “Once you’ve made the film, you are not meant to be in the festival. Once you are in the festival, you are not meant to finish it in time. That’s my life. I am never meant to be anywhere. Thank you Cameron thank you Peter for changing that.”
Abhimanyu Dassani, son of popular Bollywood star Bhagyashree, makes his debut as the title character fighting alongside rising star Radhika Madan, a fearless warrior determined to rehabilitate the honour of her one-legged karate master, Manni, who is caught in a gang war with his psychotic twin brother, Jimmy (Gulshan Devaiah in a dual performance.
“I came to do a rom-com (romantic comedy), but instead signed up for this film,” said Madan who is quick on her feet as she does the action and freewheeling fight scenes with agility and confidence. “Vasan Sir made me watch video after video of action scenes to acclimatize me to the script.”
The two lead actors share an unspoken chemistry, both in the film’s numerous ingenious brawls and the melodious set pieces.
“Both the lead actors had to train for 8-9 months learning the complete complement of martial arts in this genre film,” said Bala.
“Did you have an inspiration for the female lead character,” asked a member in the audience at the film screening.
“It’s okay to kick ass, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be emotional and you can be a badass. We wanted to explore the full range of emotions,” said Bala.
“This film is an ode to a very special bond I shared with my Grandpa whom I called Ajoba. He was a sports person, a flawed man and one man who encouraged me to be whoever I wanted to be.”