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Manto – A film about Rebellion and Freedom

Manto
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The much-awaited biopic “Manto” directed by Nandita Das is set to hit theatres and shock audiences on February 17, 2018. Saadat Hasan Manto is one of the most prolific and infamous writers that the sub-continent has ever produced and the film will have to work hard to do justice to his extraordinary autobiography against the volatile backdrop of the Pakistan-India partition.

The film focuses on both the pre and post partition periods that are the central theme of Manto’s short stories, that aspired to expose the excruciating reality of these troubled times in all their darkness and cruelty.

The Pakistani writer stirred widespread debate and controversy in both countries due to the fact that his content was explicit and considered inappropriate for the times –many would say still inappropriate –  causing him to be tried more than six times on charges of sedition and obscenity. Nandita Das, the director of the film has expressed her excitement and passion for the Manto film, since she believes that “he is a champion of free speech who looked beyond religion and nationhood”. 

Men from all ranks of life shamelessly walk into brothels every night but as a writer, he does not even have the right to write about these realities.

The film is produced by Sameer Dixit and stars the famous Nawazuddin Siddique as Manto and Rasika Dugal as his wife. Das has praised both the actors for their relentless dedication to a film that aims to assert everyone’s right to freedom of speech. There have been various speculations about whether the censorship board in India will raise objections to the film which blatantly defies norms by representing the life journey of one of the most notorious and rebellious writers of the sub-continent.

Das has responded to these fears by saying that the movie is extremely close to her heart and a handful of people who purport to be custodians of culture cannot decide what an entire nation can and cannot watch.  A short excerpt known as “A Defense of Freedom” was released in 2017, which showed the audiences a glimpse of what they could expect from the film.

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The short film trailer captures one’s attention and grips both the mind and the imagination, as a volatile and energetic Manto addresses a group of people and explains why he writes about the crudest aspects of society. After watching the trailer, viewers will find it difficult to wait till the film is released and its message and its delivery is heart wrenching and captivating.

The film will take the audience on a long winding introspective journey through the life and dilemmas of a writer who dared to expose society at every level. The life journey of Manto, who wrote screenplays for Hindi films for 12 years in Mumbai, after which he moved to Pakistan and continued to write fearlessly and courageously about the debilitating ills that plagued the society of his time, is anticipated to be portrayed with justice and integrity by the biopic.

Nandita Das, the director of the film has expressed her excitement and passion for the Manto film, since she believes that “he is a champion of free speech who looked beyond religion and nationhood”.

The movie is going to be a serious lens into not only the life of Manto but also into the society in which we live that is filled with hypocrisy and deceit. In the breath-taking trailer, the infamous writer passionately laments the destructive state of a society that refuses to change its cruel mechanisms and continues to persecute people like him, who write to show society its crumbling reality in the mirror.

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The scene is powerful as he screams in anger when he raises the all-encompassing question;  If my stories are unbearable to anyone, it is because society is unbearable.” The film is going to touch the hearts and minds of audiences across the world because the themes that it highlights concern each member of society and the fact that it is about the life and work of the sub-continent’s most rebellious and notorious writer just adds to its greatness!