- 1 hr 56 min
Manto is a 2018 Indian biographical drama film based on the life and work of the famous Urdu author and playwright Saadat Hasan Manto, played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, directed by Nandita Das. The film beautifully captures the life and times of Manto, a troubled yet brilliant writer, in the backdrop of pre-partition India. Manto struggled with his own demons, finding inspiration in the darkest corners, writing about topics considered taboo in society. This is captured masterfully by Siddiqui, who brings out the complexity of the writer's personality, his contradictions, and the inner turmoil he faced. Siddiquiâs nuanced and compelling portrayal of Manto shines through, subtly brining out the authorâs unwavering commitment to truth, his creative genius, and the compelling force that drove him to challenge societal norms.
The film takes the audience through Mantoâs struggles with censorship and backlash against his work as he wrote about the human condition with an unflinching honesty that exposed society's hypocrisy. The film shows a glimpse of pre-partition India, where communal tensions were on the rise, providing a perfect backdrop for Mantoâs stories. Das manages to create a grim and gritty atmosphere of that time. The film also touches lightly on Mantoâs association with the Bombay film industry, where he wrote scripts, and his personal relationships, giving the audience a rounded view of the author's personality.
The film explores Manto's journey, from a struggling author in Lahore to his move to Bombay, chronicling his struggles with alcohol addiction, financial difficulties and sickness. Through Manto's writings, the film shows the harsh realities that people faced at the time and how Manto's art reflected those struggles. The story is told with an emotional depth that underscores the themes of despair, redemption, and the power of the human spirit.
Mantoâs wife, Safia, played by Rasika Dugal, serves as a beautiful foil to Manto. Safiaâs quiet strength, love, and support for Mantoâs work were the backbone of his success, and Dugal does an excellent job of bringing that out. Her portrayal of Safia is understated yet powerful, and she brings out the humane and compassionate nature of the character with subtle ease.
Tahir Raj Bhasin as Shyam, an actor who features in one of Manto's stories, gives a solid performance. He brings out the complex character of Shyam, who represents the contradictions of an industry that often glorifies misogyny and objectification. Bhasin manages to bring out the vulnerability and empathy of Shyam, much like Manto.
The film's cinematography, helmed by Kartik Vijay, is exceptional. Mantoâs world is brought to life through the lens, with an attention to detail that enhances the film's storytelling. The use of the sepia tones and the gritty feel of the visuals add to the atmosphere of the time, bringing out the beauty and pain of the world that Manto was trying to capture in his work.
Nandita Das handles the subject matter with a sensitivity and depth that is worth noting. The film is not just about Mantoâs life but is also a commentary on the society of the time, and the issues that plagued it. The script is well written, and the dialogues are impactful, effectively bringing out Manto's grip on the Urdu language.
In conclusion, Manto is a moving and powerful film that does justice to the writer's legacy. It is a must-watch for fans of Manto's work and literature enthusiasts in general. The film portrays the story of an artist who was fighting against the tide, presenting the world and its people with a mirror of their own flaws and insecurities. Manto was an uncompromising artist, and the film captures the essence of the man and his work, creating a cinematic experience that is ly poignant and unforgettable.