Saadat Hasan Manto’s biographical drama is a brilliant cinematic experience. Nandita Das knows her craft well and has made a film that will finally get us a standing ovation from otherwise difficult to please foreign critics. Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Manto and Rasika Dugal as Manto’s wife Safia, will not only keep you hooked throughout the film, but also etch their image in your heart.
Why Manto deserves to be watched-
Surprisingly enough this is the first time a film is made on one of the most notable and troubled writers of all time, Saadat Hasan Manto. The story starts in the pre-Independence era where Manto meets and hangs out with notable personalities like Ismat Chugtai, Ashok Kumar, Shyam Chadda, Naushad and others. Manto writes about what he sees and experiences, and infuses sensationalism due to his thought-provoking stories. What happens when Manto is forced to move to Pakistan after partition and how his bittersweet relationship with his friends, wife and society changes is the remaining plot of the film.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays Manto with perfection and we wouldn’t be wrong to say that no other actor would’ve played the character of Manto with so much integrity. Nawazuddin’s acting flows like wine which purifies your soul. Rasika Dugal, who plays the role of Manto’s wife, Safia, delivers a noteworthy performance. Finally, she has got a role which she deserves and she hasn’t disappointed us at all. Rasika is flawless. All the actors have done their research well and there are certain moments where you will feel a lump in your throat.
3. Nandita Das
Nandita Das has made a gutsy film. She has tried to cover all the aspects of Manto’s life and although some elements feel half-touched, you can’t ask for more. She makes you time-travel to the 50’s Mumbai and it’s a fascinating experience to see old local trains and vintage cars. The way she has blended Manto’s short stories into the narrative tells us how well she has improved after Firaaq.
Watch this brilliant film for it’s unconventional script, gutsy writing, powerful performances and Manto. You wouldn’t feel alienated even if you don’t know Manto and for those who already know him, wouldn’t feel disappointed either.
We give it 3.5/5 stars