This is the last place to expect India’s fight club to happen. A Page-3-like party in a big, airconditioned studio where reality shows are usually shot, only that the reality was more real than any that you would find on Indian reality television shows. But then, this is Mumbai.

Mumbai’s Full Contact Mixed Martial fights are organised by Prashant Kumar, an advertising man who had been throwing his fists and kicking around for the last 20 years. This event, open to the public, saw some tremendously promising youngsters who fight at the national level take on each other but with their gloves off. Boxer Vs Wrestler, Taekwondo Vs Judo, lots of matching mismatch.

The fighters and their trainers are well prepared. They know where to draw the line and how much blood to draw but the punches, kicks,sweat, blood and spit shocks the audience. Most of them are seeing a gloves-off fight, for the first time in their lives. Suddenly, Bollywood fights never felt so fake. Rocky was somewhat close but this hits you in the face, kicks you in the stomach and it takes a while for the audience, some of them who are here, expecting a romantic date with a difference, to digest the spectacle. A few leave, but most of them stick around for more.

It’s only a matter of time before they get used to the raw violence.They realise that the match is stopped before any serious damage is done. They are slowly drawn in; they begin to pick their favourites, cheering and screaming and before they get their fill, the evening draws to a close.

For the fighters, it’s a break from their regular training and a chance to test their skills. While the audience went away be thankfu lthat no one was seriously hurt or the ambulance that was kept ready at the exitwas not needed that evening.

First Aid.

These images were shot for a Tehelka report

Gopal MS is a photojournalist and writer based in Mumbai. His pet project is to document the streets of Mumbai. Through stories and pictures, he tries to make sense of the city that’s always on the move at Mumbai Paused.

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