The Man Who Feels No Pain: TIFF 2018 Review

That title, right?  And then when you find out it’s a Bollywood Action Film.

A what?

So, corny singing & dancing, lame stunts, poor choreography.  Plus, the international trailer literally has the main character breaking the fourth wall trying to explain the plot.  This would be the first Indian film to play to an ultra learned and rambunctious Midnight Madness crowd.  Needless to say, I had very low expectations for this one.

Unlike other critics, though, I love to be proven wrong.

The Man Who Feels No Pain Review

I definitely was with Vasan Bala’The Man Who Feels No Pain (Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota).  This film has heart from the very opening scene.  We do get a voiceover of the main character, Surya, played amazingly by first-time actor, Abhimanyu Dassani, but, thankfully, only to explain the very precarious position he finds himself in and to simply give us some insight into his “condition” by taking us back to where it all started, as this perilous predicament could be his end.  From there we meet a younger version of Surya, and learn about his upbringing, and his bond with a young girl in his neighbourhood, played by Radhika Madan.

Abhimanyu Dassani Man Who Feels No Pain

This movie surprised me.  There is a strong plot, great comedic moments, a wonderful, playful, interesting relationship between the two protagonists, beautiful locations, and most surprisingly, some of the most beautifully shot and choreographed fight scenes I have ever seen on film.  And get this, no singing, … and no dancing.  Bollywood done grown up.

The Man Who Feels No Pain Verdict

Shot entirely on location in India, The Man Who Feels No Pain, had it’s eyes set on crossover from the very beginning.  Although martial arts fight scenes always have an element of impossibility woven in, this one, I feel tried to make theirs more realistic.  Only stepping out of the bounds of reality for a comic element, but not to push plot.  The comedic element of the situation, married with the seriousness of their plight was a perfect union that was maintained throughout the entire film, even through the exciting all-or-nothing climax (that is hard to do — Bala nailed it).

Madan, a seasoned Bollywood actress was a perfect match for first timer, Dassani, who easily owned leading man status, with his dashing good looks, perfect comedic timing and dramatic range, and abs that he must have a degree in.  Both actors had to do months of training for the fight scenes and did 99% of their own stunts and fighting.  Dassani was a smooth looking, virgin, nerd, bad-ass.  A tall order for a first time actor, but he shines, and along with Lexy Kolker in Freaks, I would say is the other Breakout star of the Toronto International Film Festival.

Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota

The Midnight Madness audience was all about this film, laughing loudly at every punchline, admiring every kick and punch and most of them didn’t even notice whether there was a musical number or not.  Bala knows how to build on an idea to enrich it for a global audience, even injecting a sexual element to the film.  This is not a typical Bollywood film, …it is BHollywood.  The Man Who Feels No Pain won the Midnight Madness award for TIFF, meaning out of all the midnight screenings, which included Hollywood blockbuster, Predator, the audience voted it the best.  I agree completely, however, I’m sure if Freaks was included in Midnight Madness, it would be a very close call.

Not only should this film be seen on all screens globally, but I, along with the hyper-enthusiastic Midnight Madness audience are demanding a Franchise run, or at the very least a hard-hitting sequel.  Oh Sheila, Bollywood is finally Ready for the World.

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