The beauty of the film is its title, and its beginning. That gives you no time to warm up or settle in. It sucks you in immediately, setting the tone for what is in store. A lot to think about, a lot of fun, and even more nostalgia.

Vasan Bala’s Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, is as political as it is a homage to the action films that have been a staple diet for each of us growing up in the late 70s and 80s. It twists toxic masculinity on its head, and lays bare the contradictions men deal with on an everyday basis. The title itself, and the narrative of the film, doesn’t lose sight of these contradictions at any point. And before I speak of anyone in the film, a special shout out to the very aware writer, for building the right conversations and ensuring they take them to fruition.

Vasan Bala’s Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, is as political as it is a homage to the action films that have been a staple diet for each of us growing up in the late 70s and 80s

The joy of seeing a script so deeply entrenched and clear about its politics is both refreshing, and strengthening. To ensure I give no spoilers away, the literalness of it all is disarming and charming in equal measure. The characters have depth, show how conditioning fools all of us, and yet, it is very much in our power to disengage. They are real and replete with flaws and fears that engulf you with their earnestness.

The film looks at interpersonal relationships, between men and their sons and other male counterparts, mothers and daughters, and peels away surfaces to explore deep layers. And in these realities lies the films greatest strength. It doesn’t try hard to imagine, it doesn’t labour on the need to desperately move from a scene to another. It feels gloriously organic, and audacious, breaking down the idiom of conventional films and gender binaries. It dares to look at its characters as people first, something that we could all learn from.

The film shines light on what we teach we teach our children and why, and how it shapes their futures and their world view.

If you are a parent, or considering being one, I’d strongly recommend the film even more to you. The film shines light on what we teach our children and why, and how it shapes their futures and their world view. Are we too busy trying to do what is right for them, or are we being true to their ambitions and feelings? Which is right? Is there a wrong? Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota asks all these questions, that make you ponder well after the film is over, of what you’d do differently if you are a parent and how your own childhood could have been different. All this is wrapped delicately in nostalgia, exquisite action and stunts which are executed well.

Abhimanyu Dassani as Surya is nothing short of terrific. He injects Surya with charm, earnestness and the ignorance that the character needs. He is nonchalant, and his ease on screen shines through. Radhika Madan, after Pataakha returns in yet another feisty role and delivers well. It is a delight to watch Mahesh Manjrekar as the accidental parent, who flits between care, space, sorrow and love with the ease of a chameleon. It is rather sad that mainstream Hindi cinema could not unleash his potential as an actor. And he was reduced earlier largely to comic roles that were insignificant. This film milks the deep character on his face, plays with light and shadow to accentuate it. But the one person unforgettable in the film is Gulshan Devaiah. His presence, interpretations, body stances are so deeply powerful and nuanced, that it is a pleasure to watch him every time he appears on screen.

Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota is a must watch. Because through the film it doesn’t take itself too seriously.Its only once its over, that it makes you introspect. I guess that is what it is then, as you watch, the film eases and comforts you, as it ends, it implores you to think. Much like art.

Picture Credit : YouTube screenshot

Saumya Baijal is a writer, poet, storyteller, ad woman, and theatre practitioner. The views expressed are author’s own.

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