Director: Nandita Das
Starring: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Rasika Dugal, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Chandan Roy, Rajshri Deshpande,
Story: Nandita Das
Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, HP Studios and Filmstoc’s MANTO is a biographical drama based on the life of Urdu author Saadat Hassan Manto played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui. MANTO, the film, follows the journey of Saadat Hassan Manto’s most tumultuous years and that of the two countries that he inhabits – India and Pakistan. During the last year of the British rule in India, Manto works in Film World and his stories are widely read and accepted. But after partition which follows violence, Manto makes the difficult choice of leaving his beloved Bombay after an incident. In Lahore, Pakistan, he finds himself bereft of friends and unable to find takers for his writings. His increasing alcoholism leads him downwards, although he sticks to writing prolifically, without dilution. His short story Thada Ghost leads him into huge trouble as the Pakistan court finds his short story obscene. This is a tale of two emerging countries Indian and Pakistan after partition, two cities Bombay (Now Mumbai) and Lahore and one man who try to make sense of it all.
Technically the film is superb, Cinematography by Kartik Vijay is incredible, production design by Rita Ghosh is amazing and the Bombay and Lahore of 1940 is created brilliantly. Editing by A.Sreekar Prasad is top notch, has a runtime of just over 115 minutes. Music by Sneha Khanwalkar and Background score by Zakir Hussain goes nicely with the flow of the film.
Performances wise Nawazuddin Siddiqui is outstanding, a movie which completely focuses on him as Manto, he had to bring out his best and he does it like he does as always, Nawazuddin’s MANTO is today’s Nasserudin Shah’s MIRZA GHALIB. Rasika Dugal as Manto’s wife Safia is amazing, she plays her part perfectly, Tahir Raj Bhasin as Shyam Chadda an Indian actor of the 1940’s and 50 and Bhanu Uday Singh as Ashok Kumar does a very good job. Other actors like Rajshri Deshpande as Ismat Chaughtai, Chandan Roy as Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi plays their role to perfection. The film also starts Rishi Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Ila Arun, Divya Dutta, Ranvir Shorey, Purab Kohli, Gurdas Maan and also introduces Javed Akhtar in roles that they perform with full conviction.
Director Nandita Das beautifully tells the story of Saadat Hassan Manto and also his playwright which got Manto praises and in trouble is very well shown in the film.