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Actor Abhimanyu Dassani was the shining star at his upcoming film Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota’s (Men Feel No Pain) presentation at the Midnight Madness segment of the Toronto International Film Festival (Tiff) .

In the fantasy thriller, he plays a man who is born without the ability to feel pain and who aims to test the idea of masculinity by taking on 100 opponents in martial arts.

Son of actors Bhagyashree and Himalaya Dasani, Abhimanyu doesn’t disappoint in the 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 Friday 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 entrepreneur as his famous parents didn’t want him to enter the entertainment industry.

“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 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,” he said.

How challenging was this physical role since he had to internalise 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 Bala’s second film to feature at Tiff, after Peddlers in 2012.