New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Abhimanyu Dassani’s cinematic debut, Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (The Man Who Feels No Pain), recently won the People’s Choice Award in the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness category. The Bollywood-infused action-comedy follows a young man born without the ability to feel pain as he attempts to defeat 100 foes in a kumite tournament. Dassani plays the lead role of Surya.
The son of popular Indian actress Bhagyashree, Dassani completed the 4-Week Acting for Film program at NYFA in 2010. Despite his family’s history in the film industry, Dassani was determined to make it on his own without using connections: he responded to an open call for the role, and was denied an audition twice before finally being seen. All told, he ended up completing nearly 30 auditions and screen tests before landing the part.
“I was sure I wanted to make it on my own, because no matter how much you get in your life, what is it worth if it’s not deserved?” he said in an interview with Hindustan Times. He also mentioned that his casting was a shock to his parents, who had not expected him to follow in their footsteps. “They were really surprised because I have been independent since the age of 16, and I was in the process of setting up businesses.”
To prepare for the role, Dassani trained for three months in a variety of martial arts, including free hand training and stick fighting. His preparation paid off. The film is the first Indian film to be featured in the Midnight Madness category, despite the country’s huge cinematic output. The role has gained Dassani worldwide acclaim–his work won him the Best New Young Actor award at the 3rd International Film Festival & Awards Macao, making him only the fourth Indian actor ever to receive an award at an international film festival.
The New York Film Academy congratulates Abhimanyu Dassani on his success, and looks forward to his future projects!