Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota: subversion par excellence

Last Updated 23 March 2019, 09:53 IST

Director: Vasan Bala

Cast: Abhimanyu Dassani, Radhika Madan, Gulshan Devaiah, Mahesh Manjrekar, Jimit Trivedi

Category: UA

Rating: 4/5

Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (MKDNH) had introduced its trailer saying "this is the cliched Bollywood trailer of MKDNH. If we didn't release this trailer, the festival film tag that's been attached to it will never go away".

There was another trailer, where the female lead, Radhika Madan, complains about nepotism as MKDNH is the "launch" of starkid Abhimanyu Dasani. "I am an outsider heroine," she grumbles, "just look at the name of the film! I am not even in any of the posters. Maximum my lines are going to be 'Help me! Help me!' ".

All of a sudden, she all-too-easily overpowers a knife-wielding man.

If trailers have ever correctly given you a taste of what to expect from a film, it's these.

MKDNH is a comic book-like film about Surya, "the man who can feel no pain" and superhero-aspirant. After his mother's untimely death because of chain-snatchers on the family's way home after his birth, Surya is brought up by his father and maternal grandfather; that is between a paranoid control freak and the sort of man who says: "Right now, you don't need Bruce Lee — you need sahe-Lee".

Then, isolated for years from the outside world and his badass best friend Supri (Radhika) in a house with a haunted look, he discovers the endless joys of VHS cassettes, and through those, discovers Karate Mani (Gulshan Devaiah), a one-legged martial artist with a heart of gold who takes down 100 men one after another, whom Surya develops a sort of Ekalavya-Drona relationship with.

But soon Surya, Supri and Mani have to take on Jimmy, a red-tint-shades-wearing freak who is Mani's identical evil twin.

While what you just read is the plot, you must understand 'plot' to writer-director Vasan Bala is just a jungle gym to do acrobatics on: an exercise (pun intended) that in a lesser film would have made the audience hiss, spit, groan and mock; but in MKDNH becomes the source of unending delightful whackiness.

For instance, the sequence where Surya's mother dies is prefixed with a fourth-wall-breaking "scene that never happened", where she turns around on a bike's sidecar yielding guns in both hands and shoots at the chain-snatchers.

The film never takes itself seriously. The brilliant subversions begin with its title itself: parodying a sexist proverb to talk about the troubles of not being able to feel pain.

In fact, in a move that would disappoint that great Kamadhenu of starkids, Karan Johar, Abhimanyu never takes on the glory that these kids have bequeathed to them. (Karan Johar's next film Kalank will release on April 19, starring Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and nepotism in the lead.)

MKDNH also makes plenty of references to the great yesteryear action classics to endearingly parody them. Even the evil twin trope has seldom been so effective.

Radhika is the real action star in the film, delivering brilliant action in super slow motion with ease as Kishore Kumar's Nakhrewali plays in the background, and buying an I-pill at a medical shop without breaking a sweat.

The showstopper is of course Gulshan's Jimmy. Surya's voice-over claims he is the "cliched psychotic villain" but is in fact a parody of it: a villain who refuses to engage with our hero calling his Ninja Turtle mask a monkey cap, and asks his army of villains, who roar in baravdo, to keep it quiet because they are in a residential area.

This is not a film to miss. MKDNH is a mix of great things: acting, casting, comedy, action (though some bits are a bit long) and music. One only wishes the Rappan Rappi Rap video was included somewhere in the film.

(Published 22 March 2019, 14:42 IST)

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