The old adage goes, “no pain, no gain,” but that can be a problem when it’s impossible for you to feel any sort of pain even after getting hurt. Vasan Bala’s Hindi action comedy Mard Ko Dar Nahi Hota, or The Man Who Feels No Pain, is blatant in its title, as it follows Surya (Abhimanyu Dasani) who has a rare condition called congenital insensitivity to pain, which prohibits him from feeling physical pain. Young Surya grows up under the careful watch of his guardians, equipping him with a trusty water bottle backpack so he doesn’t get dehydrated and longs to become one of the martial arts masters he idolizes in his favorite action films. As an adult, Surya reunites with his childhood friend Supri (Radhika Madan), and together, they must stop the vengeful brother of one of his martial arts heroes from exacting his revenge.
The Indie Avenger: This film is a love letter to 1980s action flicks infused with the dynamic music of Bollywood cinema. There is a lighthearted rhythm that carries throughout the entire movie, even as the plot introduces rapid-fire combat sequences or slow-paced moments of drama. The Man Who Feels No Pain fixates on a gimmick: an exceedingly confident vigilante who can feel no pain testing his limits to finally become a kung fu master--a dream he has had since his youth. The lead actor, Abhimanyu Dasani, exudes a childlike vigor in his attempts at playing someone with seemingly very little weaknesses. His onscreen chemistry with Radhika Madan also comes off as naturally compatible, as though they really were childhood best friends.
Hitting the Punchline: While The Man Who Feels No Pain has plenty of laughs to spare (you can’t go wrong with a kid casually yanking out a syringe lodged in his leg while his friend looks on in utter terror), pacing becomes an important factor in the grand scheme of storytelling. It’s obvious that the film is meant to be loud, bombastic, and slightly cheesy, as it pays tribute to bygone action films that could be described as just that. The cinematographers must have taken inspiration from the slow-motion fight sequences in The Matrix because almost every aerial kick or roundabout is stretched out to about 10 seconds as the characters linger in the air before hitting their opponent. This can get a bit tiresome, especially when done so repetitively that the run time might actually be significantly shorter without those scenes.
The Man Who Feels No Pain has the potential to become a cult classic with its comedic approach to the action genre, if it weren’t for the overindulgence of slow motion that seems to elongate the story to an unnecessary length.