MUMBAI: Filmmaker Vasan Bala's "Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota" is an ingenious amalgamation of martial arts and a man who does not feel pain, origins of which, the director says, lie in his curiosity to know more.
The film chronicles the story of a young man born without pain receptors who longs to defeat 100 opponents in a kumite tournament.
The action-comedy recently bagged People's Choice Award in the Midnight Madness section at Toronto International Film Festival.
"I've always wanted to make a martial arts film. As a genre, India has never made it as such even though we have made unofficial remakes of these films, we have kind of never used martial arts properly," Vasan told PTI.
What started as an ode to martial arts, soon became a humane story chronicled with quirk when Vasan heard a true story.
"A friend of mine told me about this kid who comes to a dentist and doesn't ask for anaesthesia. I got intrigued and then the whole process to know what his condition was started.
"Somehow while writing, this condition came in and it all merged with my martial arts love. This happened in 2015."
The film, however, involved "immense" rewrites for the director, who wrote it while listening to soundtracks of "Ilayaraja, AR Rahman, Sinatra and everyone" to give the script the mood it needed.
"I would always go to scene one and start rewriting all over again. I must've rewritten it at least 10-15 times. I don't know why, but I think it's an obsession, when you think you've finished it, you go back and almost rewrite it again."
"Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota" is the second feature of Vasan and the first to get a theatrical release, after his 2012 "Peddlers" which never saw the light of the day even after being lauded at the Cannes Film Festival.
Asked if all the rewrites got to his nerves, Vasan said, "It's frustrating when you're putting in so much hardwork and you don't know if the film is going to be made at all. If the films going to get made and you're rewriting, you're still at peace."
To make his vision come to life, actors Abhimanyu Dassani and Radhika Madan joined the action-comedy as principal cast along with Gulshan Devaiah in a double role.
Vasan says it was important to get the casting right and the team spent a considerable amount of time on it.
"A lot of times when I'm doing ads, I keep a note of actors I'm hundred per cent going to cast. But for the main characters, we had to spend a lot of time searching for them.
"For Radhika, I didn't see any audition. There was an introduction of hers which I had seen and it was just very instinctive. Abhimanyu went through quite a lengthy process of auditioning for one and a half months."
The film is scheduled to release on March 21 and Vasan hopes to get a sound sleep once it is appreciated.
"Eventually it's the goodnight sleep we are chasing. But also the sleeplessness. When a film comes out, no matter what you've been through, there's no greater feeling to see your crew, the people you look up to, be happy and smiling."