By Vasan Bala

One day, I was walking back home after school. I stood at the signal. A senior snuck up behind me, punched me, kicked me and ran away. I had no clue why he did that to me. He made Karate sounds while doing so, as if pulling off some intricately practiced moves. As I fell onto the footpath, clutching my abdomen, he screamed “Ninja” and ran away. I have no fucking clue till date why I was beaten up, but I remember watching a lot of Kung Fu movies later that week, practicing alone at home and planning and plotting a similar Ninja attack on him. The intense training happened, but the attack, never. I didn’t have the josh high enough for a counter strike but those days of intense self-taught training had me almost feeling like Rocky Balboa, The Karate Kid, and a disciple of the 36th Chamber of Shaolin all in one. The feeling was unforgettable. The whole idea of virtual revenge, a grand heroic one in my mind, was greater than executing the actual one.

That incident became instrumental in me loving Kung Fu movies more than ever. I could be any Ready Player One in my mind. I could be Jackie Chan or Sly Stallone or Bruce Lee or Van Damme or what the hell, even Hemant Birje of Tarzan (not the Wonder Car, the B.Subhash one).  Thank God, there was no camcorder with me those days. I would have totally lost those moments of invincibility. Reality was far, far away; I was riding my DeLorean and zooming in and out of time zones.

Years later when I was standing at a similar signal with Peddlers, Déjà Vu! It felt like some Ninja mob just crept up and beat the shit out of me and vanished. “Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota” took me back to practicing some intense Kung Fu to extract revenge on that Ninja Mob. That revenge, so cold and diced with a Hattori Honzo sword to perfection in my mind. It was supposed to unleash upon Bollywood an 80s and 90s B-Movie homage with an art-house panache setting it in the worlds so lovingly created by Sai Paranjpye, Basu Chaterjee and Hrishikesh Mukherjee.

Their protagonist fought mild middle-class battles of ego, self-respect and social pressures, but I wanted them to be equipped with Kung Fu. A Rajaram Purushottam Joshi from Katha in my world should be Karate Joshi. Dr. Parimal Tripathi should be Sensei Tripathi and my Sunil from Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa would not just play at the Enter the Dragon club but also own it and have Anthony and Vasco dishwash for him. No, actually that relationship should be exactly as is, as Kundan Shah wanted it to be. Won’t change a thing there. Sunil was perfect. He was a Ninja.

Getting back to reality, the ambition of middle-class revenge is only as good as ringing the doorbell in the middle of the afternoon and running. Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota for me was one such assault on Bollywood. You might not think much of it, but in my mind, in the past 6 years since Peddlers I defeated many assassins, destroyed a Yakuza clan by fighting the Crazy 88, moved from one blood bath to another. I finally reached the doorstep of Bollywood in the middle of a blazing afternoon and used the “Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique” to ring the doorbell and run. Run as fast as I could. I have this huge fucking smile on my face. The braces on my legs explode and I have no purpose left.

Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota releases on the 21st of March. The revenge in my mind was a blockbuster. Reality check? I really don’t want to have one, I am busy chewing my Bubble Gum.