Mard ko dard nahi hota – this iconic dialogue by Amitabh Bachchan is the title of a super wacky film by Vasan Bala. It tells the story of a boy born with a congenital insensitivity to pain. Playing this man is Maine pyaar kiya actress Bagyashree’s son Abhimanyu Dassani. This isn’t a serious documentation of a rare medical condition but an eccentric ride about a young boy who refuses to grow up.
In a hat tip to the ’90s VHS tapes era, young Surya is obsessed with watching action films and idolises a one-legged Karate master. A major influence in Surya’s life is his grandfather.
Mahesh Manjerekar is terrific as the always dependable Aajoba, bringing up Surya on a steady supply of action films and inspiring stories about heroes and their bravado.
The hilariously self-aware narrative voice, breaking the fourth wall at regular intervals. adds to the fun. Be it taking the advice to remain hydrated as the most important life philosophy or his tutored and trained response to say “ouch” at the sight of blood, Surya is an accidental superhero and the universe Vasan Bala conjures up has a pulsating comic book feel to it.
Surya remains the trusting earnest kid even when he grows up and so the people who matter to him most remain the same even though they now have different preoccupations.
One-legged karate master Mani is being tormented by his evil “psychotic villain” of a brother – both roles essayed by the supremely talented Gulshan Devaiyah. The range he encompasses and the masterfully self-assured screen presence make him deliver a knock out punch. Gulshan Devaiyah is staggeringly good.
Then there is the spirited Radhika Madan who fights street thugs in slo mo and is exuberant as Supri. She is always ready to pick up the cudgels for the defenceless but allows her own fiancé to bully her. Alternating between the vociferous and vulnerable, Madan’s full blooded commitment to the role is another highpoint of the film.
Vasan Bala’s hold rarely slips as he creates a fanboy’s tribute to the iconic films he seems to have grown up watching – from Bruce Lee to Manmohan Desai they are all in here.
Jai Patel’s cinematography paints the frames in a radiating manner.
Not all references and jokes hit the mark but when they do it’s a lark! The action sequences are complete paisa vasool and Radhika Madan, Gulshan Devaiyah, Mahesh Manjrekar and Jimit Trivedi never miss a beat as they surrender to this eclectic setup.
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