TIFF 2018 Day 9 round-up: Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, Meeting Gorbachev premiere to good reception
Abhimanyu Dassani, who has created a buzz for his debut movie Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, was the star at the films presentation at the Midnight Madness segment of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
Not an out-and-out Bollywood masala movie, it is a fantasy thriller whose protagonist aims to test the idea of masculinity to the utmost by taking on 100 opponents in martial arts because he is born with the ability to feel no pain.
Son of famous actress Bhagyashree and Himalaya, Abhimanyu doesn't disappoint in the lead role this film directed by Vasan Bala.
"I had six kilo more weight while doing the film than I have today. Before the film, I trained for eight months for six hours every day in martial arts, yoga, swimming, stick fighting and meditation," the actor said before the film's screening on 14 September night.
"I used to eat six big meals every day to put on weight."
"I also spent three months in isolation before the shooting because my character Surya doesn't speak to anyone. It helped me a lot. Surya is socially awkward, but he is confident. The isolation led me to have a lot of introspection about myself and my character," the 28-year-old actor added.
Before films, Abhimanyu was a serial entrepreneur as his famous parents didn't want him to enter the entertainment industry because of its uncertainty.
"I have been a serial entrepreneur since 16 and have worked with many people. Then I discussed the idea of trying entrepreneurship in films also. I went to New York to study filmmaking, but I soon realised that it was the acting that I liked the most," he said.
He said he didn't know director Vasan Bala when he went to audition for this film.
"One day in 2016, someone tweeted me a screenshot about an upcoming film requiring a martial arts actor. I set up a martial arts centre with 50 students to be trained by Vikas Barua. I went to audition for this film. I didn't know Vasan Sir. I got no chance for audition on the first, second and third day. On the fifth day, Vasan Sir called me and I went through auditions for 30 days before I was selected for this role."
How challenging was this physical role since he had to internalize so much about his character Surya who doesn't speak or emote?
"Vasan Sir trusted me and it empowered me," the actor replied.
"I have grown up watching Govinda. Those are the kind of films I want to do. But I am open to any kind of films. Bollywood, regional cinema, Netflix, and in any role - lead or five minutes or whatever."
Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, which features actress Radhika Madan opposite Abhimanyu, was shot in Mumbai over a period of 55 days.
It is Vasan Bala's second film to feature at TIFF, after Peddlers in 2012.
Meanwhile, German director Werner Herzog's Meeting Gorbachev was one of the best documentaries being screened at TIFF as a record number of crowds thronged its screenings.
In the form of long interviews filled with images and footage of the cataclysmic events from his life, the documentary visually captures Mikhail Gorbachev's rise in the Soviet Communist Party - from his "godforsaken place" of Stavropol Krai, to Moscow as top leaders Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, and Konstantin Chernenko died within three years in the mid-1980s.
It shows how Gorbachev, who took the helm in 1985, unleashed the 'Perestroika' (central planning) and 'Glasnost' (democracy) movements, which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union six years later.
In Gorbachev's words: "Perestroika was on top of my agenda."
The opposition to his reforms led to a coup against him by hardline leaders when he was holidaying in Crimea in August 1991. By the end of 1991, it was all over as various Soviet Republics decided to go their own way.
In the documentary, Gorbachev said that he wanted only reforms by devolving more powers to regions and blamed "reckless" leaders such as Boris Yeltsin for the collapse of the Soviet Union.
"I am sorry for my own people," Gorbachev tells Herzog.
The break-up of the Soviet Union is his tragedy. "I regret it to this day," adding that his pain is still deep.
"Yes, it is hard. Yes, it is my internal problem."
But he qualifies his tragedy by saying: "We tried."
Herzog credits Gorbachev for his sincerity to end the Cold War as he said he was ready to meet late US President Ronald Reagan anywhere - "even in Hiroshima".
After the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, the two leaders met in Iceland to discuss disarmament and the documentary captures their iconic handshake.
However, Gorbachev says: "Americans thought they had won the Cold War and it went to their heads... It was our joint victory."
The former Soviet leader also comes in praise for his statesmanship in ending the Afghan war, allowing German reunification and assuring no intervention in Hungary.
Herzog, who shot the documentary between October and December 2017 and in April, told the Toronto audience that the 87-year-old Gorbachev is "very very ill".
"He was delivered straight from hospital right in front of our camera and then straight back to the ambulance."
Herzog's co-director Andre Singer said that people in Russia today mistakenly blame Gorbachev for breaking up the Soviet Union.
"Ironically, he was the one didn't want this. It was Yeltsin and heads of various republics who saw their opportunity for independence... The significance of Gorbachev is that how lessons from that era can humanize politicians of today."
The documentary highlights Gorbachev's "unique, specia"' bond with his late wife Raisa which became the bedrock of his political life.
Gorbachev told Herzog that "when she died, my life was taken away from me".
Radhika Apte also graced the red carpet of TIFF with her co-star from The Wedding Guest Dev Patel.
The actress kept her look simple yet classy with a striped dark blue blazer with blue denims. Apte is creating waves with her upcoming Hollywood venture The Wedding Guest alongside Patel. The film, written and directed by Michael Winterbottom, premiered earlier this week at TIFF.
(With inputs from agencies)
Updated Date: Sep 15, 2018 10:20 AM