Vasan Bala: Conducted month-long auditions with Abhimanyu Dasani

Director of Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, which bagged TIFF’s People’s Choice gong, on casting Bhagyashree’s son Abhimanyu Dasani

Vasan Bala: Conducted month-long auditions with Abhimanyu Dasani

Abhimanyu Dasani in a still from Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota

Having presented for the viewers at the recently concluded Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), a film on a man with congenital insensitivity to pain, Vasan Bala possibly knew his offering wasn’t a conventional one for the gala. “But you don’t really make a film for the festivals,” laughs the director, who went on to break norms anyway, and bag the People’s Choice title in the festival’s Midnight Madness section with Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota.

Having learnt of the condition from a friend, Bala was certain it was a topic he wanted to explore. “You wonder how life would be if things were a certain way. I always [hoped] I never felt pain. But after seeing several documentaries pertaining to the subject, [I realised that] pain is what makes you feel alive.”

Vasan Bala
Vasan Bala

The film marks Bhagyashree’s son, Abhimanyu Dasani’s Bollywood debut, and Bala reveals that it was five days into meeting Dasani that he learnt of his association with the actor. “He had arrived at Mukesh Chhabra’s [casting director] office, just like any another aspiring actor. We had conducted workshops with them to capture them in different scenarios. The auditions went on for a month-and-a-half, and he emerged as the clear winner,” he says of Dasani, who had been practicing mixed martial arts for four years before a back injury called time on his training.

“Following his injury, he started training again for the film and was back to his original ways in two weeks. He trained in MMA, Karate and Taekwondo over an eight-month period.”

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