Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Rasika Dugal, Tahir Raj Bhasin
Director: Nandita Das
Producer(s): HP Studios, Filmstoc, Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Nandita Das Initiatives
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Off late, Bollywood buffs have been noticing that filmmakers are harnessing the real power of their medium by associating themselves with projects that along with entertaining us, educate us in many ways, that too without being preachy at all.
The latest example of such a film is Nandita Das’ Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Rasika Dugal-starrer Manto, a film which, we believe, is the need of the hour.
Nandita Das’ latest directorial tells the story of one of the most brilliant short story writers that have ever walked on the face of this earth, Saadat Hasan Manto (Brought to life by the unquestionably brilliant Nawazuddin Siddiqui), a self-loathing artist who craves for being understood and his dues. Manto, as is depicted in the film, is an angry, sensitive and egoistic human being who practically has no appetite for criticism. But, on top of that, the man has a broken heart as he has had to leave Mumbai, the very city that he is indebted to (something which is conveyed beautifully here) and where his parents and son lie buried. It was such a delightful and heart-breaking experience to see the Babumoshai Bandookbaaz actor bring all of these small details to life and makes us wonder: How much of Manto’s pain is still within him?
But, although Nawaz’s literary genius is at the center of it all, there’s so much more to Manto, through which Das justifies all the conflicts and angst that the artist has housed within himself. In this endeavor, Das also manages to show us that whatever atrocities we are seeing today is something that has been prevalent throughout history and unfortunately, not much has really changed in all the time that has passed. When you’re watching in the film, Das’ impeccable screenplay makes you feel included in his story and at the end of it all, you’re bound to take away a tiny fraction of Manto with you.
Other power-packed performances are that of his better half, Safiya Manto (played by the very talented Rasika Dugal) Manto’s friend, companion and an acclaimed movie star, Shyam Sundar (played by Tahir Raj Bhasin) and many, many others! And those many others are the many unforeseen delights that make this film a must watch.
There’s so much to Manto that words aren’t simply enough to express, although somehow, the ace writer had managed to do that. Apart from a slew of entertaining performers and brilliant artists, one should spend some time dwelling into Manto’s life at the theatres as all in all, this film is something that India needs to watch.