Directed by – Nandita Das
Produced by – Vikrant Batra, Ajit Andhare, Namrata Goyal, Nandita Das
Written by – Nandita Das
Starring – Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Rasika Dugal, Rajshri Deshpande, Rishi Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Javed Akhtar
Music by– Sneha Khanwalkar, Raftaar
Background Score – Zakir Hussain
Cinematography – Kartik Vijay
Edited by – Sreekar Prasad
Production company – HP Studios, Filmstock, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, Nandita Das Initiatives
Movie Plot: Saadat Hassan Manto, a man whose opinions were considered obscene by many and did not appeal a larger group, in today’s time, is known as ‘the writer of partition’. However, he always told the true tales of partition and did not support any side.
Coming to the movie, “Manto” harks back to the time when India was being divided into India and Pakistan with Manto embodying the idea of partition during that time. “Manto” movie is divided into two parts – Bombay 1946 and Lahore 1948.
The Bombay part covers the last two years of Manto in India when he was a well-established script and short story writer. At that time his life revolves around Progressive Writer’s Association, film industry, his best friend Shyam Chaddha and his pillar of support Safia. Manto and renowned writer Ismat Chugtai are frequently charged with obscenity during that time.
Once his wife goes to Lahore to attend a cousin’s wedding but Manto decides to stay back. He is really proud of his country and believes in its diversity and tolerance. But the twist in the tale arises when because of a conversation with his best friend Shyam, Manto, a non-practicing Muslim impulsively makes the unimaginable decision of moving to Pakistan.
The latter part of the movie depicts the melancholic and isolated life of Manto who does not care about the world and family, a man who becomes a drunkard and starts hallucinating and finally pens some of his most courageous works before dying.
Movie Review: Directed by Nandita Das, this movie takes a dive into Manto’s life while trying to figure out what Manto basically condemned. Das has tried hard to search for the bruised depths of Manto’s writings which appear relevant even today. But the sad part is there is a curious distance between the vision and execution of the movie. Nawaz has tried hard to display the wry humor, sadness, frustration, bitterness, and betrayal felt by Manto but the extracts are not smoothly weaved. However, despite the looseness, the remarkable slew of supporting cast have left a lasting impression in the fleeting appearance. Paresh Rawal, Divya Dutta, Rishi Kapoor, and Bhasin have tried hard to appear as the shining stars of the movie.
Our verdict: The movie ‘Manto’ displays an admiring portrait of the artist who threw himself into the battles which are still existing today. It is a near-perfect tribute to a man who voiced his opinions fearlessly and left a rich legacy behind. One can go to watch the movie with family and comprehend more about the life of this maverick writer who always asserted “My stories are mirrors for society to see itself”.