Author Manto belongs to the league of genius writers like Vladmir Nabokov, Gustave Flaubert and D.H.Lawrence. Manto is hailed as the most acclaimed writer in Urdu language. I became familiar with author Manto after seeing the short film – ‘In Defence of Freedom’ based on his ideals and thoughts. In the short film he justifies his stand on freedom of expression in world of writing. The role of Manto was portrayed by actor Nawazzudin Siddiqui.
After watching the short film on Manto, I was curious to know about his works and his contribution in literature. His works were realistic reflection of society which highlighted the atrocities happening around. The short film as well as the biopic is been directed by Nandita Das who has extensively researched on Manto by reading his works and personally meeting the writer’s family. Along with Nawazuddin Siddiqui, actress Rasika Duggal will be seen playing the role of Manto’s wife. Manto’s wife was a pillar of strength who stood by him in his best and worst times.
Though I have yet to read about his works to know about his personality and his thoughts, I am already captivated by the genius behind the writer. The upcoming biopic – Manto based on last four years in life of the celebrated writer Saadat Hassan Manto gives a glimpse at his rebellious nature and how it affected his life both personally and professionally. The plight of writers was miserable compared to today’s marketing trends. Nowadays young writers have social networks, blogs to promote their writing works. In pre-independence days, writers had only imagination and a typewriter. Saadat Hassan Manto made his work recognized in the struggling industry of publication. Getting royalties from publishers was herculean task in pre-independence time. The lack of monetary prosperity and constant accusations of obscene writings took a toll on Manto’s career. Though he succumbed to alcohol, financial insecurities, he emerged as a celebrated author of his own generation. The biopic – Manto is all about what the legend Saadat Hassan Manto as a person was. Manto is an ambitious movie for Nandita Das in terms of direction and storytelling.
Mainstream cinema directors make movies on gangsters, match-fixing cricketers, Bollywood sirens but there are hardly any biopics on writers. With Manto making its presence felt in Cannes Film Festival, I have a faint hope that there will be biopics on Premchand, Sarat Chandra, Tagore and Amrita Pritam in coming times. I hope that movie Manto will connect the audience to the meaningful cinema which is rare nowadays.
The biopic – Manto is currently screened at Cannes Film Festival and is scheduled to release in October 2018.